Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion: The Long Harm of the Law
By Evan Calder Williams
Nashville: America Singing
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In a new article for Moving Image Source, critic and Cineaste editor Richard Porton peeks behind the stony facade of the most unlikely of French movie stars, Lino Ventura. Before he came to acting (responding to an open casting call for Jacques Becker’s Touchez pas au grisbi), Ventura was a middleweight wrestling champion; his intimidating appearance was key to his initial success, but it was his innate talent for performing in front of a camera that brought him a thirty-year career in movies. Porton looks at what made Ventura such a unique screen presence—whether as a moody police detective (Elevator to the Gallows), a grim gangster (Le deuxième souffle), or a conflicted Resistance fighter (Army of Shadows)—as well as at the actor’s fiery relationship with his important collaborator Jean-Pierre Melville, with whom Ventura refused to speak for years. Porton also makes the case for Ventura’s influence on a certain brand of stripped-down masculine movie acting, from Robert De Niro to Vincent Cassel.