The genius of Jean-Pierre Melville’s Le Doulos is that either everything we’re initially led to believe was a lie, or everything Jean-Paul Belmondo says near the end of the film is the truth. The title of the film comes from French slang for “the hat,” which also refers to a police informant in underworld argot. Belmondo wears the hat for most of the film, but so does a slew of other characters. So who’s telling the truth? Watching this complex and tough crime drama, it really doesn’t matter. This is often argued to be Melville’s first pure crime film and damn did he come out swinging.
CLASSE TOUS RISQUES (1960)
Claude Sautet’s Class Tous Risques was eclipsed by Godard’s Breathless in 1960, but Jean-Paul Belmondo gets shot in both of them. He doesn’t play such a smarmy prick in Sautet’s film though, which is a starkly cynical and intelligent bit of realist crime completely stripped of flash. It’s about a middle-aged thief named Abel (Lino Ventura) who is banking on one last score to retire. Like most movie criminals with jinxed retirement plans, shit turns sour and Abel has to rely on his shifty underworld cohorts for help.