Tonight's Saturday Night Cinema feature was French film director's Jean-Perre Melville's last film, Un Flic (A Cop), starring Alain Delon, Richard Crenna and the impossibly beautiful Catherine Deneuve. The film is below the fold (scroll) -- if you are not seeing the subtitles, click on the CC icon on the bottom right side of the youtube screen and select "English."
(1972) Piano-playing Alain Delon and nightclub owner Richard Crenna (U.S. TV star, Wait Until Dark, and Rambo’s mentor) both love Catherine Deneuve — who doesn’t? — only trouble is, one’s a post-burn-out cop and the other’s bent on the heist of a lifetime — and are they both looking past her at each other? Melville’s final work features minimalistically iconic performances from the star trio: a never more jadedly detached Delon; a never more chillingly icy Deneuve; and a surprisingly effective, smilingly insinuating Crenna; with two trademark heists, the first a near wordless bank job on a deserted, bleakly rain-sodden seaside street; and a nerve-shredding, timed-to-the-second drug snatch done via helicopter-to-train transfer — and back again. Approx. 98 min. 35mm.
Click here to read Daniel Kasman's essay on Un Flic at Mubi
“The chillingly spare opening sequence of Melville’s final feature… is a Zen-suspenseful set piece, all rock-steady compositions and hypnotically primordial atmosphere… a philosophical state of mind as a ticking-clock tension generator. Plus, it’s a terrific prelude to the film’s stripped-down battle of wits between Simon (Crenna) and the jaded Parisian police commissioner, Edouard (Delon), who’s slowly catching on to the clandestine robber’s criminal dealings. With barely a word spoken between them—mostly a series of virile glances—Delon and Crenna paint an idealized portrait of masculine camaraderie, one that’s exposed at the end of Melville’s bracing last testament as a soul-shattering illusion.”
– Keith Uhlich, Time Out New York
“THE GREAT JEAN-PIERRE MELVILLE'S SWAN SONG! High priest of tough-guy mysticism and master of the attitudinous gangster thriller, Melville not only anticipated the French new wave but served as a model for the neo new wave of Jim Jarmusch, Quentin Tarantino and Wong Kar-wai.”
– J. Hoberman, Artinfo
"By the time Melville made Un Flic his style had condensed and cooled, beyond the elliptical, into near-abstraction. Looks are exchanged like gunfire – has any director done more with a wordless face-off?”
– Anthony Lane, The New Yorker
“A SUPREMELY ENTERTAINING LAST WORK!”
– David Robinson, The Times (London)
“CHILLING PERFECTION! The opening bank robbery (pale Hokusai lighting, blue sleekness and seaside melancholy, trenchcoats, masks) [distills] an entire oeuvre... Everything points to the disintegration of Melville’s loyalty motif, honor all but evaporated from both sides of the game.”
– Fernando F. Croce
"Like Godard in Alphaville (1965) and Tati in Playtime (1967), Melville creates [in Un Flic] an aesthetically pleasing and yet disturbing universe, both futuristic and contemporary: the night clubs with space-age décor of white walls, plexiglass bubbles, and steel tubes, the distorted walls of the modern police headquarters, the cold modern apartments, the “ruined” St-Jean de Monts beach with its ugly apartment blocks stretching into infinity, the price of the new leisure society."
– Ginette Vincendeau
“Delon is at home in the shadowy underworld of dubious nightclubs and shady hotels, has an easy way with gangsters’ molls, is quick on the trigger and given to beating up suspects when they are dragged to headquarters. Who can resist him with his world-weary nonchalance and his incipient brutality? He is a hero of our times.”
– Thomas Quinn Curtis, International Herald-Tribune
“The cold restraint with which Melville films the opening bank robbery and the central heist suggests emotion with an exquisite subtlety that borders on hysterical repression — and Delon, with his ice-blue eyes and mask-like stillness, serves the director’s purposes perfectly, as does Deneuve, who, as a platinum princess playing on both sides of the law, gives away nothing, either to her two men or to the camera. Melville’s vision of modern-day corruption, which he kept in check under the regime of Charles de Gaulle (whom Melville had served in the French Resistance), was evidently liberated by de Gaulle’s death, in 1970; here, Melville’s chilly manner turns sardonic as he vents pent-up bile.”
– Richard Brody, The New Yorker