Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Le cercle rouge


A hugely influential movie from Jean-Pierre Melville, a French director who never made a big name for himself in America. Though it’s in color, this is the sort of movie that the term film noir was invented for. Nobody in it is very nice, but man, are they ever cool! Many directors of American thrillers count Melville as one of their heroes. The cast is great, with Alain Delon, Bourvil, and Yves Montand, who may be the coolest actor ever to appear in film. That world-weary, hound-dog face …

That said, it’s not a very emotionally involving movie. It’s more of a lesson in cinema construction, complete with archaic devices like wipes and some imaginative editing in the violent scenes. The centerpiece is a really nice jewelry heist, worth the price of admission all by itself, right up there with Topkapi, Rififi, and The Hot Rock.