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.