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ALEX FARBA


 

Alex Farba Deleon is a filmfestivals.com ambassador

MY FILM FESTIVAL REVIEWS


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LE CERCLE ROUGE at Yerevan

By Alex Deleon     

The peak film of the Yerevan week was without a doubt "Le Cercle Rouge", the 1970 all star masterpiece gangland thriller by Jean-Pierre Melville.  Less well know than his younger Nouvelle Vague disciples, Truffaut and Godard, but a much better filmmaker, Melville specialized in deliberately paced psychological thrillers in which top French stars gave some of their best performances.

At the very beginning we are informed that the cryptic title, The Red Circle, comes from a fatalistic Buddhist capsule of wisdom which states that no matter what their divergent paths may be all men end up in the same Red Circle.

The three men with the divergent paths here are (1) Corey, a cool gangster just released from prison and hoping to go straight (Alain Delon), (2j Vogel, a desperado killer on the lam, (Italian star Gian Maria Volonte) and (3) Jansen, a retired  expert police marksman with a drinking problem and questionable morals (Yves Montand). They come together by fate to successfully pull off a tremendous midnight jewelry heist on Ritzy Place Vendôme in central Paris but will all end up in the fatal Red Circle due to a complex network of interlocking intrigues and betrayals Bravado and betrayal are recurrent themes in Melville films.

Pulling them in is another iconic French actor, Bourvil, as the ace cat loving detective relentlessly tracking the escaped Vogel all across France from Marseille to Paris wilefully exploiting his major informant contacts. (François Périer, another major French character actor).

The long heist scene filmed in complete silence is spellbinding and a tribute of sorts to a similar scene in the Jules Dassin technically perfect crime thriller "Rififi" of 1955.

Together with "Le Samouaï", another Melville masterpiece also starring Delon, Red Circle is an enduring twin peaks of French thriller cinema. Breathless entertainment all the way, and the work of a master craftsman at the top of his game.

Cercle Rouge was part of a five film tribute to Maître Melville on the hundreth anniversary of his birth.

 

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Melville did a memorable cameo in Godard's "Breathless".  Playing a vain writer who, when asked what his final ambition was, replied: "Devenir immortel, et puis mourir"   (To become immortal, and then die!) 

Melville did a memorable cameo in Godard's "Breathless".  Playing a vain writer who, when asked what his final ambition was, replied: "Devenir immortel, et puis mourir"   (To become immortal, and then die!) 

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