POISON IVY
LA MOME VERT-DE-GRIS
1952, Pathe, 97 min, France, Dir: Bernard Borderie

The first of Eddie Constantine’s (France’s biggest star of the 1950s) jokey, self-referential Lemmy Caution tales, LA MOME VERT-DE-GRIS also features blonde bombshell Dominique Wilms, who leaves every man she meets during the film’s delirious action more than a little breathless. As Bertrand Tavernier noted, Constantine’s alter ego Lemmy Caution is the template for James Bond - though he’s clearly more hangdog and unkempt than the suave British spy. But Constantine wins us over with his crooked smile, his love of liquor and women, and his reckless courage in the face of gunfire. LA MOME VERT-DE-GRIS makes it clear why Paris was at Eddie’s feet in the ’50s, and you’ll want to scratch that itch for more Lemmy!


LE SAMOURAÏ
1967, Janus Films, 101 min, France/Italy, Dir: Jean-Pierre Melville

Director Jean-Pierre Melville’s best-known film stars Alain Delon as uber-cool assassin Jeff Costello, roaming the nasty streets of Paris looking for the slugs who betrayed him. PULP FICTION, HEAT, THE KILLER - this is where neo-noir truly begins, in the film’s steely, artificial blues and grays, in the alien beauty of Delon’s hitman. “A prose poem of silences and gestures interrupted by the occasional crack of a gun and a whispery sigh.” - Manohla Dargis, L.A. Weekly.


THE WAGES OF FEAR
LE SALAIRE DE LA PEUR
1953, Janus Films, 131 min, France, Italy, Dir: Henri-Georges Clouzot

Later remade as William Friedkin’s SORCERER, Pauline Kael called this nail-biting thriller “the most original and shocking French melodrama of the ’50s.” When one of its South American wells catches fire, an oil company hires four drivers to transport the nitroglycerin needed to extinguish it. Yves Montand stars as one of the men desperate enough to carry the explosive cargo over very rough mountain roads. In French with English subtitles.


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