Jean-Pierre Melville

Le samouraï

Le samouraï

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 trench coat 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.

Film Info

Special Features

  • New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Interviews from 2005 with Rui Nogueira, editor of Melville on Melville, and Ginette Vincendeau, author of Jean-Pierre Melville: An American in Paris
  • Archival interviews with Melville and actors Alain Delon, François Périer, Nathalie Delon, and Cathy Rosier
  • Melville-Delon: D’honneur et de nuit (2011), a short documentary exploring the friendship between the director and the actor and their iconic collaboration on this film
  • Trailer
  • PLUS: An essay by film scholar David Thomson, an appreciation by filmmaker John Woo, and excerpts from Melville on Melville

Purchase Options

Special Features

  • New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Interviews from 2005 with Rui Nogueira, editor of Melville on Melville, and Ginette Vincendeau, author of Jean-Pierre Melville: An American in Paris
  • Archival interviews with Melville and actors Alain Delon, François Périer, Nathalie Delon, and Cathy Rosier
  • Melville-Delon: D’honneur et de nuit (2011), a short documentary exploring the friendship between the director and the actor and their iconic collaboration on this film
  • Trailer
  • PLUS: An essay by film scholar David Thomson, an appreciation by filmmaker John Woo, and excerpts from Melville on Melville
Le samouraï
Cast
Alain Delon
Jef Costello
François Périer
Superintendent
Nathalie Delon
Jane Lagrange
Cathy Rosier
Valérie, the pianist
Jacques Leroy
Man in the passageway
Michel Boisrond
Wiener
Robert Favart
Bartender
Jean-Pierre Posier
Olivier Rey
Catherine Jourdan
Hatcheck girl
Roger Fradet
First inspector
Carlo Nell
Second inspector
Robert Rondo
Third inspector
André Salgues
Mechanic
Georges Casati
Damolini
Jean Gold
First nightclub client
Georges Billy
Second nightclub client
Credits
Director
Jean-Pierre Melville
Producers
Raymond Borderie
Producers
Eugène Lépicier
Screenplay
Jean-Pierre Melville
Director of photography
Henri Decaë
Camera operators
Jean Charvein
Camera operators
Henri Decaë
Music
François de Roubaix
Production design
François de Lamothe
Production supervisor
Georges Casati
Assistant director
Georges Pellegrin
Editors
Monique Bonnot
Editors
Yo Maurette
Assistant editors
Geneviève Adam
Assistant editors
Madeleine Bagiau
Assistant editors
Madeleine Guérin
Assistant editors
Geneviève Letellier
Sound supervisor
Alex Pront
Sound editor
Robert Pouret
Sound engineer
René Longuet
Furniture and accessories
Robert Christides

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Jean-Pierre Melville

Writer, Director

Jean-Pierre Melville
Jean-Pierre Melville

Though remembered now primarily for his intense, spare 1960s gangster films, French filmmaker Jean-Pierre Melville had a startlingly varied career, encompassing wartime dramas, psychosexual character studies, and a collaboration with Jean Cocteau. Jean-Pierre Grumbach (he would eventually change his name to Melville to honor the American author of Moby Dick) fought during World War II, first in the French army and then in the Resistance; those experiences would often inspire his work to come. After the war ended, he pursued his love of film with dogged obsession. Though a lover of classical studio directors (William Wyler and John Huston among them), Melville worked mostly independently, even building his own studio. It was this fierce do-it-yourself attitude, and such startling, uncompromising films as Les enfants terribles and Bob le flambeur, that appealed to the filmmakers of the French New Wave, who adopted Melville as a godfather of sorts (Godard even famously gave him a cameo in Breathless). During the New Wave, however, Melville went his own way, making highly idiosyncratic crime films—classically mounted if daringly existential—that were beholden to no trend, including Le doulos, Le deuxième soufflé, and Le samouraï. His most personal movie was Army of Shadows, which, though misunderstood upon its initial French release in 1969, is now widely considered a masterpiece. Melville died of a heart attack in 1973 at the age of fifty-five.