Jean-Pierre MelvilleFrance140 minutes1970ColourFrench
A full-length, French-language/English-subtitled print of an important Melville that was once dubbed into English and cut by 40 minutes. Taking its title from an apocryphal Buddhist maxim invented by Melville and drawing heavily on one of Melville's favourite films, Jules Dassin's Rififi, The Red Circle stars a trio of Europe's most iconic actors — Alain Delon, Yves Montand and Gian Maria Volonté — as professional crooks drawn together by fate. Delon, just released from a Marseilles prison, encounters Volonté when the latter hides in the trunk of his car after escaping on his way to jail. The two hook up with Montand, an alcoholic ex-detective turned marksman for hire, and set out to rob a seemingly impregnable jewellery store in Paris. A favourite film of John Woo, The Red Circle is celebrated for many things — Henri Decäe's steely cinematography, the tersely elegant choreography of the heist, Melville's sense of existential drama — but it is Montand's performance as the alcoholic shooter, one moment trapped in a D.T. swarm of rats and spiders, the next all cool composure in a tuxedo as he dispatches a target, that has earned the highest praise.