France, 1970, 140 min, 4K DCP, Dir. Jean-Pierre Melville, Not Rated, French with English subtitles, Rialto Pictures
"An exciting and unusual event… The world-weary solitude of the main characters will feel familiar to viewers who have seen Melville’s sensibility refracted in the work of acolytes like John Woo, Quentin Tarantino, and Jim Jarmusch. Action filmmaking as a kind of lyric poetry… there is never a rushed shot, a perfunctory cut or a wasted movement. The kind of experience that makes you glad movies exist." —A.O. Scott, The New York Times
Impassive faces, snap-brim hats, dangling cigarettes, sunglasses after dark, raincoats without rain… We’re unmistakably in the world of Melville, master of fate-haunted French gangster picture (Le Doulos, Bob Le Flambeur, Le Samouraï), here bringing together four archetypal tough guys for their appointment with destiny: prisoner-in-transit Gian Maria Volonté (Christ Stopped at Eboli); relentless Inspector Mattei (played by French comedy legend Bourvil); ex-cop Yves Montand; and Alain Delon (La Piscine, Mr. Klein), shrugging off two murder attempts on his first day out of the joint. The four join forces for a meticulously planned heist, a silent tour-de-force in the grand movie tradition of Topkapi, The Asphalt Jungle, and Rififi. The biggest hit of Melville’s career, Le Cercle Rouge was initially released in the U.S. in a dubbed version cut by 40 minutes, until the complete two hour, twenty-minute version was finally released here by Rialto Pictures in 2003. This brand new 4K restoration from StudioCanal spotlights the noirishly muted color cinematography by Melville/New Wave lenser Henri Decaë (Le Samouraï, The 400 Blows, Elevator to the Gallows, Purple Noon) like never before, with subtitles by veteran translator Lenny Borger. It’s the perfect follow-up to our “splash hit” La Piscine, starring Delon.
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