Jean-Pierre Melville

Léon Morin, Priest

Léon Morin, Priest

Jean-Paul Belmondo delivers a subtly sensual performance in the hot-under-the-collar Léon Morin, Priest (Léon Morin, prêtre), directed by Jean-Pierre Melville. The French superstar plays a devoted man of the cloth who is desired by all the women of a small village in Nazi-occupied France. He finds himself most drawn to a sexually frustrated widow—played by Emmanuelle Riva—a religious skeptic whose relationship with her confessor turns into a confrontation with both God and her own repressed desire. A triumph of mood, setting, and innuendo, Léon Morin, Priest is an irreverent pleasure from one of French cinema’s towering virtuosos.

Film Info

Special Features

  • New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • French television interview with director Jean-Pierre Melville and actor Jean-Paul Belmondo from 1961
  • Selected-scene commentary by film scholar Ginette Vincendeau
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by critic and novelist Gary Indiana and excerpts from Melville on Melville

New cover by Sarah Habibi

Purchase Options

Special Features

  • New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • French television interview with director Jean-Pierre Melville and actor Jean-Paul Belmondo from 1961
  • Selected-scene commentary by film scholar Ginette Vincendeau
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by critic and novelist Gary Indiana and excerpts from Melville on Melville

New cover by Sarah Habibi

Léon Morin, Priest
Cast
Jean-Paul Belmondo
Léon Morin
Emmanuelle Riva
Barny
Irène Tunc
Christine
Nicole Mirel
Sabine
Gisèle Grimm
Lucienne
Monique Hennessy
Arlette
Credits
Director
Jean-Pierre Melville
Producer
Georges de Beauregard
Producer
Carlo Ponti
Based on the novel by
Béatrix Beck
Adapted by
Jean-Pierre Melville
Cinematography
Henri Decaë
Editing
Jacqueline Meppiel
Editing
Nadine Marquand
Editing
Marie-Josèphe Yoyotte
Original music by
Marital Solal
Original music by
Albert Raisner (harmonica)
Art direction
Daniel Guéret
Assistant directors
Volker Schlöndorff
Assistant directors
Luc Andrieux
Assistant directors
Jacqueline Parey

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Jean-Paul Belmondo

Actor

When you’re talking about French New Wave cool, it’s Jean-Paul Belmondo who first comes to mind. There are other male icons of the era—Alain Delon, Jean-Pierre Léaud—but with his casual sexiness, cigarette-smoking swagger, and boxer’s mug that only a mother (or actually, as it turns out, everyone) could love, Belmondo stands alone. The son of a famous sculptor, he worked successfully as a comic stage actor for a few years before Jean-Luc Godard cast him in his 1958 short Charlotte et son Jules; during the production, Godard promised the young actor the lead role in his first film. In 1960, Breathless hit: its impact was, of course, seismic, and so was the force of the actor’s breakthrough. In Michel Poiccard, Belmondo created a rapscallion antihero for the ages, couched by Jean-Luc Godard in both romanticism and reality, as though a demigod in a documentary. Superstardom followed fast on the film’s heels. In the early sixties, Belmondo would alternate between New Wave art films (working with Godard again in A Woman Is a Woman and Pierrot le fou) and gangster pictures that showed off his effortless tough-guy bravado (Classe tous risques, Le doulos). Soon enough, he was one of France’s most bankable stars, embarking on a career making comedies and action movies that has already spanned a half century and is still going on.