Yesterday we looked at Melville’s Bob le flambeur – a film that saw the French crime maverick developing the style and motifs he’d eventually refine in his classic gangster cycle. Today we’re jumping forward in time to his final film, Un flic (A Cop), which was released in 1972 – one year before the filmmaker’s premature death. Here Melville seems to be fetishizing and embellishing the trademark touches he developed late in his career: meticulous heist sequences, minimal dialogue, long glares, homoerotic undertones. All these elements are presented to an almost absurd degree. The result is a visually fascinating caper that frustratingly lacks the emotionally engaging sacrificial gut punches of his classics.
After making a string of highly acclaimed crime films in the ’50s and ’60s, unconventional French badass Jean-Pierre Melville created his epic masterpiece Le Cercle Rouge in 1970. I’m not calling it an epic because it’s 2.5 hours long, naw, I’m saying that because the film encompasses all of his beliefs concerning criminals, the underworld, and the police and presents them in one seamlessly controlled narrative. Like Rififi 15 years before (which Melville was originally attached to direct), Le Cercle Rouge is centered around a heist. It’s planning, execution, and fallout are depicted in detail, also like in Dassin’s film. Melville’s film takes a closer look at all of these aspects though, all while exploring the masculine romanticism and codes of honor that he obsessed over.