Classic Movie Review: Le Samouraï (1967)

Le Samouraï
Directed by Jean-Pierre Melville
Written by Jean-Pierre Melville
Starring: Alain Delon, Francois Perier, Nathalie Delon, Cathy Rosier, Michel Boisrond
Release Date: October 25, 1967
Criterion Blu-Ray Release Date: November 14, 2017

– Why, Jef?
– I was paid to.

A simple line of dialogue like this has a tremendous amount of substance behind it. The hitman’s ruthless, taciturn response here embraces the rigid mentality of almost all of French director Jean-Pierre Melville‘s characters. In essence, they all remain true to their word. His characters are obsessively dedicated to their particular craft or talent, rendering them masters at what they do.

Just like some of his most memorable ones, such as the priest in Leon Morin, Priest, the gangsters in Le Circle Rouge, the resistance fighters in Army of Shadows, and the Nazi officer in Silence de la Mer, the hitman in Le Samouraï is governed through an austere, lonely landscape by an inexorable code they must adhere to. His code and his talent as a scrupulous assassin are everything he owns.

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