Le Doulos Screen 4 articles

Le Doulos

1962

Le Doulos Poster
  • Melville’s obsession with 1930s gangster films and internal codes of honor reaches a high watermark with Les Doulos. Belmondo suppresses his intrinsic charm to perfect, cold effect—he and Reggiani are ruthlessly efficient, the deep emotions behind their actions barely breaking their placid surfaces. But it’s that slight crack revealing humanity that inevitably leads to doom, and Les Doulos features the most ideal death in all cinema.

  • Technically, stylistically and poetically this film represents the first work where Melville expresses his full directorial potential. Suspense rhythmically rises in a montage of surgical finesse, the plot moves forward in layers sidestepping the narrative conventions of the genre while interlacing its own internal logic. The climax pulls all the loose strings together in an act of narrative bravura that denotes a cultivated talent the likes of which French cinema will seldom experience again

  • If nothing else, Le Doulos features the most direct encapsulation of the Melville ethos when Jean (Aimé De March) describes Silien as someone who “doesn’t let his feelings show.” In Melville’s world, such open emotionality is often the surest way to certain doom.

  • The Möbius strip of noir ambiguity, as hard and shivery and tortuous as can be... The collapsing screen from Les Enfants Terribles figures suggestively in the final shootout, the concept of underworld honor reduced to a fallen chapeau.