RAZZIA SUR LA CHNOUF
1955, Kino Lorber, 105 min, France, Dir: Henri Decoin

Fresh from his success in TOUCHEZ PAS AU GRISBI, Jean Gabin plays a more mysterious character in director Henri Decoin’s adaptation of a novel by Auguste Le Breton (RIFIFI). Is he hard at work trying to streamline the Paris drug trade for his longtime boss (Marcel Dalio) or is he really in cahoots with the police? Featuring a dream cast of French noir specialists (Lino Ventura, Magali Noel, Lila Kedrova, Albert Rémy).


LE DEUXIEME SOUFFLE
SECOND BREATH
1966, Janus Films, 150 min, France, Dir: Jean-Pierre Melville

This riveting crime drama based on the novel by José Giovanni tells the story of a middle-aged hood (Lino Ventura) who breaks out of jail and organizes a new gang, determined to prove he still has the juice. Melville’s brutal, crackling noir contrasts Ventura’s “old-world craftsmanship” against the younger generation of Nouvelle Vague crooks. According to critic Tom Milne, the film “established Melville’s reputation as a brilliant refurbisher of the immemorial imagery of the genre - gleaming night streets, gunmen prowling in deserted stairways.”


ARMY OF SHADOWS
L’ARMEE DES OMBRES
1969, Rialto Pictures, 145 min, France/Italy, Dir: Jean-Pierre Melville

Arguably director Jean-Pierre Melville's most personal film (he fought in the French underground during World War II), this shattering portrait of the early days of the French Resistance is not so much a crime film as it is a fascinating companion to the director’s more famous thrillers. The dark, fatalistic tone and the themes are all there from Melville’s noirs: betrayal, the loss of honor and the mechanics of brutality. Legendary tough guy Lino Ventura stars in what Melville called “a nostalgic pilgrimage back to a certain period which profoundly marked my generation.” With Simone Signoret and Paul Meurisse.


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