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PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2007 8:41 am 

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Le doulos

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The backstabbing criminals in the shadowy underworld of Jean-Pierre Melville's Le doulos have only one guiding principle: “Lie or die.” A stone-faced Jean-Paul Belmondo stars as enigmatic gangster Silien, who may or may not be responsible for squealing on Faugel (Serge Reggiani), just released from the slammer and already involved in what should have been a simple heist. By the end of this brutal, twisty, and multilayered policier, who will be left to trust? Shot and edited with Melville’s trademark cool and featuring masterfully stylized dialogue and performances, Le doulos (slang for an informant) is one of the filmmaker’s most gripping crime dramas.

Special Features

• New, restored high-definition digital transfer
• Selected-scene audio commentary by film scholar Ginette Vincendeau, author of Jean-Pierre Melville: An American in Paris
• Video interviews with directors Volker Schlöndorff and Bertrand Tavernier, who served as assistant director and publicity agent, respectively, on the film
• Archival interviews with Melville and actors Jean-Paul Belmondo and Serge Reggiani
• Original theatrical trailer
• New and improved subtitle translation
• PLUS: A new essay by film critic Glenn Kenny

Criterionforum.org user rating averages



Le deuxieme souffle

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With his customary restraint and ruthless attention to detail, director Jean-Pierre Melville follows the parallel tracks of French underworld criminal Gu (the inimitable Lino Ventura), escaped from prison and roped into one last robbery, and the suave inspector, Blot (Paul Meurisse), relentlessly seeking him. The implosive Le deuxième souffle captures the pathos, loneliness, and excitement of a life in the shadows with methodical suspense and harrowing authenticity, and contains one of the most thrilling heist sequences Melville ever shot.

Special Features

• New, restored high-definition digital transfer
• Selected-scene audio commentary by film scholar Ginette Vincendeau, author of Jean-Pierre Melville: An American in Paris , and film critic Geoff Andrew of the British Film Institute
• New video interview with director Bertrand Tavernier, who served as publicity agent on the film
• Archival footage featuring interviews with Melville and Lino Ventura
• Original theatrical trailer
• New and improved subtitle translation
• PLUS: A new essay by film critic Adrian Danks

Criterionforum.org user rating averages



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PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2007 8:47 am 
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hangthadj wrote:
Looks like I will be heading down to Film Forum Monday night to see Melville's Le Dolous.

I was wondering if anyone else has had a chance to see it yet and if there were any thoughts...

I haven't seen the Rialto print, but I've seen the film (on the BFI disc). It's great, an early example of the prototypical Melville gangster film. Belmondo is a more of a happy-go-lucky doomed gangster than Delon's typically morose kind.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2007 9:09 am 
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I found Le Doulos to be very different from Melville's other films (that I have seen) this film is much more playful in terms of the twisting narrative he delivers and whilst Melville's characters are more often doomed loners like Bob (le Flambeur) or Jef (Le Samourai) the tone here is different somehow, the characters seem to be loners as a cause of their work but they don't want to be at all, all they seem to really long for is safety and friendship, rather than the inherent lonerism that characterises Melville's other characters mentioned who are loners because that's the way they like it.

What took me surprise is that Belmondo plays a much more different character than I had expected and Serge Raggiani is really the central character (to a point) and I thought that what Melville was really doing here was making a Western, something he would have loved to do but could never, obviously, transpose to France.

Certainly an excellent film, like all of Melville's work I have seen and a nice script (which Tarantino has said is the best script ever written, read into that what you will).


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2007 9:46 am 
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Some interesting thoughts. I especially liked your reading of the film as a Western, which may not be that far off.

Le Doulos is an interesting film that seems to mark the bridge between Bob Le Flambeur and Le Deuxieme Souffle, two markedly different gangster films. It is filled with a kind of comraderie and sly humor that you'd find in Bob, yet it also has that distinct fatalism so common in Melville's later films (all of them in fact). A well-crafted picture (with a nine minute long-take interrogation scene!) with some marvelous performances from Reggiani and Belmondo, plus one hell of an opening scene (gotta love that train!). Oh, it also features one of the greatest slaps in cinema history.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2007 10:08 am 
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I had wondered about the playfulness in Melville's gangster films, having only seen Bob and Le Doulos from his pre Le Samourai period (after which all the films are much darker). It seems very true that Le Doulos is a sort of bridge in the evolution of his oeuvre. I can only hope that the unavailable lot are made available soon!


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2007 6:04 pm 
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FSimeoni wrote:
I had wondered about the playfulness in Melville's gangster films, having only seen Bob and Le Doulos from his pre Le Samourai period (after which all the films are much darker). It seems very true that Le Doulos is a sort of bridge in the evolution of his oeuvre. I can only hope that the unavailable lot are made available soon!

Le Deuxieme Souffle is totally different. There is absolutely no playfulness, camraderie, or humor. It's all about method, psychology, and fatalism. There is definitely fatalism in Bob but you don't really see that "Mevillian gangster fatalism" until Le Doulos.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2007 7:28 pm 
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I think the abuse scene in Le Doulos is needlessly harsh towards the woman involved. I mean did Melville really need to go as far as he did? The film is disorienting and strangely empty in substance and tone, and behind Les Enfants is my least-favorite Melville. Of course my favorite Melville is Un Flic so my tastes probably already run counter to most.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2007 8:23 pm 
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Eyes peeled for one of the most impressive long takes (8 minutes) in an interior scene in all of Cinema in this film. Up there with the Nazi office scene in John Frankenheimer's, The Train.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2007 6:12 pm 

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So, I did see this Monday at Film Forum.

Person wrote:
Eyes peeled for one of the most impressive long takes (8 minutes) in an interior scene in all of Cinema in this film. Up there with the Nazi office scene in John Frankenheimer's, The Train.

That really was an impressive scene.

The whole film was really extremely enjoyable. It's definitely worth catch

I'm trying to wrap my head around the whole Le Doulous as a Western idea and was hoping that maybe FSimeoni could go further with his thoughts on that.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2007 6:46 pm 
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Quote:
Oh, it also features one of the greatest slaps in cinema history.

Quote:
I think the abuse scene in Le Doulos is needlessly harsh towards the woman involved. I mean did Melville really need to go as far as he did?

:lol: When I saw this for the first time in the cinema I burst out laughing (not sure if from shock or a 'amusement' or both...)
It's interesting that whenever people 'debate' Melville's supposed mysogyny this is the scene that always springs to mind. You can really sense the unadulterated zeal in those slaps and the sadistic joy when he pours the alcohol over her head.

Oh, and I ought to add that this film contains my favourite line in film: 'I wasted a raincoat on her, almost new'.


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2007 6:12 am 
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hangthadj wrote:
I'm trying to wrap my head around the whole Le Doulous as a Western idea and was hoping that maybe FSimeoni could go further with his thoughts on that.

I know that Melville loved Westerns and always wanted to make one but obviously couldn't transpose the American west to France, but I think in the case of Le Doulos, it seems, to me, that Melville was telling a story here that was very similar to a Western in terms of the character's fatalism and structuring of the story, I think bizarrely it actually came out feeling rather like the latter westerns that would appear some seven years later, such as The Wild Bunch, and even something like Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia seems like an interesting piece alongside Le Doulos . I think that Melville, actually, probably had a great love for Westerns of the Golden Era and that maybe people like Peckinpah were more influenced by him rather than Ford or Hawks?

The opening shots of Le Doulos are undeniably a crime movie, the only way I can see this being comparable to a Western is this somehow feels like our hero, Maurice, is coming back from somewhere (a dark past) to the town, which is a common opening to westerns I feel. But I think that once we come to know the characters and their movements, for me, it really starts to feel like a Western.

I think also the prominent presence of the police captain, in a lot of crime films this the archetypal character is either limited to a very small role (Le Samourai) or another possibility entirely in which the police captain/law official is the main character (Un Flic). I think the relationships we see between the characters in Le Doulos is very reminiscent of the western where you have this conflict between a group of outsiders, all clamouring for that escape with the loot to a quiet life and the police captain another of these characters very similar is his ethos but on the right side of the law. By the end of Le Doulos this escape to the homestead becomes evident in Silien's near achievement of this goal, but as with any western their fatalism overtakes them and we all know the ending.

I guess a lot of films could be manipulated to look like another genre in an analysis but this is the way I saw the film personally and certainly won't apply to everyone.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 15, 2008 7:51 pm 
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Just announced, updated initial post with DVD specs.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 15, 2008 8:55 pm 
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Hmmm... they're both at the $40 price point. I'll probably pick up at least one, as I'm definitely a crime/heist movie fan. Which one's better?


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 15, 2008 8:56 pm 
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jbeall wrote:
Hmmm... they're both at the $40 price point. I'll probably pick up at least one, as I'm definitely a crime/heist movie fan. Which one's better?

I prefer Le Doulos but I'm a Belmondo fanatic.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 15, 2008 9:08 pm 
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For anyone like me who is holding off virtually evey new Criterion purchase becuase of possible future Blurays, the Russian DVD of Deuxieme Souffle (which the lamented Tony and xploited had on sale for 20 bucks) is an excellent Disc as a stayer until Blu time. I just dunno now where you can get these ex-xploited titles?

I suspect Le Doulos and Leon Morin are my least favorite Melvilles, although both have plenty of interest. And - strangely perhpas - I agree with DH2 the misogyny and woman beating in Doulos really begins to annoy me as a narrative limitation rather than an aspect of Belmondo's character.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 15, 2008 9:23 pm 
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Finally, I get to see how Le Doulous ends! I rented a VHS of this film many years ago but for some reason the ending was cut off. More Melville is fine by me.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 15, 2008 9:45 pm 
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I kind of prefer later Melville, when he was dripping with aesthetic, so I prefer Second Breath. However, Belmondo is awesome in Doulos. His two other films with Melville aren't as good as Doulos.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 12:51 am 
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davidhare wrote:
For anyone like me who is holding off virtually evey new Criterion purchase because of possible future Blurays, the Russian DVD of Deuxieme Souffle (which the lamented Tony and xploited had on sale for 20 bucks) is an excellent Disc as a stayer until Blu time. I just dunno now where you can get these ex-xploited titles?

I am sorry to have to disagree. The Russian disc by Film Prestige, which I own, is a direct PAL-NTSC port of the Rene Chateau disc with added English subs. There is a heavy dose of "ghosting" and a sea of macroblocking issues to consider. (Unlike Film Prestige's direct PAL to PAL port of En Cas de Malheur which was a perfect copy of the Chateau disc the one above is atrocious).

I would certainly recommend that people stay away from it.

Pro-B


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 1:02 am 
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I see your point, but in playback on my setup there are no ghosting issues. And some but not excessive macroblocking. And although I was expecting some variation in color timing/white level temp it seems to be by and large consistent. In any case I assume Criterion's version will also be from Rene Chateau, but with a superior systems corrected transfer. We really need it in HD however. And until the Crit at least this was acceptable. Certainly it's a major late Melville. All of these need Blu releases, and most should be ready for them.

Completely UNLIKE the new R2 disc of Identificazione di una Donna which pulsates and quavers in color/visual quality in completely vomitous fashion. This almost resemebles at times the the weird low-tech video image (intentional) of Oberwald Mystery. Really a horrible disc.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 1:43 am 
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Any one else surprised that they released Second Breath in its original French title, especially when we got The Fire Within or The Lovers instead of the beautiful Le Fou follet or Les Amants. I always thought these were better commonly known vice versa.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 1:50 am 
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I'm sure it's because no one's ever seriously called Le Doulos anything but, and they intended to pair both films-- it would look silly to have two paired films but one title translated and the other not. Of course, based on the cover art, they probably weren't that worried about looking silly.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 3:51 am 
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Cinephrenic wrote:
Any one else surprised that they released Second Breath in its original French title, especially when we got The Fire Within or The Lovers instead of the beautiful Le Fou follet or Les Amants. I always thought these were better commonly known vice versa.

Not surprised at all. The remake of Second Breath in France with Bellucci and Auteuil is probably as good of an excuse as you could come up with (though the US premiere is still not on the horizon). Posters and promos have been everywhere....even on the net. :)

davidhare wrote:
I see your point, but in playback on my setup there are no ghosting issues. And some but not excessive macroblocking. And although I was expecting some variation in color timing/white level temp it seems to be by and large consistent. In any case I assume Criterion's version will also be from Rene Chateau, but with a superior systems corrected transfer. We really need it in HD however. And until the Crit at least this was acceptable. Certainly it's a major late Melville. All of these need Blu releases, and most should be ready for them.

Perhaps it is less apparent on your set then but I have a large SONY Bravia XBR4 and the "ghosting" is utterly distracting, in fact to the point of making it unwatchable (the pivotal scene at the beach with cops for example).

davidhare wrote:
Completely UNLIKE the new R2 disc of Identificazione di una Donna which pulsates and quavers in color/visual quality in completely vomitous fashion. .

Thanks, I will avoid it.

Pro-B


Last edited by pro-bassoonist on Wed Jul 16, 2008 3:55 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 4:45 am 
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Pro, Ghosting is a completely weird issue for me. My display is the Sony VW60 Projector (calibrated for 6500 Kelvin White) which when calibrated is an absolutely outstanding PJ, fed by a variety of sources including the old Tosh E1, a native DBRom on the laptop with WinDVD 9 Blu and other things.

It may be that I simply cannot see ghosting in motion. Nor can I see jaggies very often !!! But I am older than most people here, I had LasiK eye surgery 13 years ago (and am otherwise in fabulous health.) What I end up seeing when the source is totally poor or mediocre (I'm sure we all understand this broadsweep) is a shitty print, with judder, certainly bleeding, EE and blocking. At this moment I've got on the now ancient Star is Born R1 DVD and I can barely watch it. The print is lousy to start with, but the fucking transfer!!! (This was one of the first and very few double sided DL DVD 19 discs ever manufactured of course. Christ it shows.)

Anyhow all that aside, everyone here including me welcomes the detailed eyes that you and Gary bring to the reviews. I think this is particularly important now that we're starting to get things like Nick's feedback of of the Blu Great Expectations which, like the same company's Black Narcissus uses up a grand total of 19 or 21 gigs on the fucking encode!!! Why!!! Isn't this the whole fucking point of Blu (and HD gen 1 / 2k transfers) generally in translation to the new format?

THis is - I hope - clearly not meant to be offensive. (Obviously I woudda thought.)


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 4:47 am 
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I emailed Tamara about Le Deuxiemme Souffle a couple of weeks ago - now I know why I didn't get a reply! This is great news and will definitely buy straight away. Glad to see more Vincendeau and will interested to hear Geoff Andrew's thoughts.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 4:47 am 
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I wonder if the scene-specific commentary from Vincendeau on Le Doulos will be the same as on the BFI disc... If so there may not be much to choose between the two editions.

To go back to the old, but undeveloped, discussion, I'd second (or third?) the DHs' comments on Le Doulos's misogyny. I loved the film until that 'wasted a raincoat' flashback, which just gave the whole thing a really sour taste. Most of the misogyny in films like this doesn't really bother me, I guess because femmes fatales are usually a bit more developed. But there was a really unpleasant undertone of sexual violence to the radiator scene in Le Doulos, which in turn gave the ensuing male camaraderie a kind of obnoxious locker-room atmosphere.

I found this to be the only Melville film where his attitude to women actually hampered the story. And given Tarantino's neanderthal treatment of female characters in his films, it isn't too surprising that this is his favourite script.

Still, a brilliant film in every other way, and I can't wait for Le Deuxieme Souffle...


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