Le Samouraï

Color, Blu-ray projection source
107 min.


Friday, Mar. 23 at 7:30pm

In a career-defining performance, Alain Delon plays Jef Costello, a contract killer with samurai instincts. After carrying out a flawlessly planned hit, Jef finds himself caught between a persistent police investigator and a ruthless employer, and not even his armor of fedora and trenchcoat can protect him. An elegantly stylized masterpiece of cool by maverick director Jean‑Pierre Melville, “Le samouraï” is a razor-sharp cocktail of 1940s American gangster cinema and 1960s French pop culture — with a liberal dose of Japanese lone-warrior mythology.

Writing in the New Yorker on the film’s original U.S. release, Penelope Gilliatt called Melville “the poet of the implacable. In France he is thought of as the most American of directors, the man who has taken the B picture and the policier to new heights; to us he is apt to seem one of the most French, able to make something artful and full of art out of little, like a chef concocting an idyllic hors d’oeuvre out of mayonnaise and a few raw vegetables.” She describes “Le Samourai” as “a sort of meditation on solitude, embodied in a lonely, rigorous mercenary who assassinates to order,” and praises the film as “cold, masterly, without pathos, and not even particularly sympathetic; it has the noble structure of accuracy.”


Jean-Pierre Melville

With an introduction and post-film discussion by Kathy Corley, professor of film in the Electronic and Photographic Media Department at Webster University.

Sponsored by

Ann Repetto