Jean-Pierre Melville

Le cercle rouge

Le cercle rouge

Alain Delon plays a master thief, fresh out of prison, who crosses paths with a notorious escapee (Gian Maria Volonté) and an alcoholic ex-cop (Yves Montand). The unlikely trio plot a heist, against impossible odds, until a relentless inspector and their own pasts seal their fates. Jean-Pierre Melville's Le cercle rouge combines honorable antiheroes, coolly atmospheric cinematography, and breathtaking set pieces to create a masterpiece of crime cinema.

Film Info

Special Features

  • Newly restored uncut version, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • Excerpts from Cinéastes de notre temps: “Jean-Pierre Melville”
  • New video interviews with assistant director Bernard Stora and Rui Nogueria, the author of Melville on Melville
  • Thirty minutes of rare on-set and archival footage, featuring interviews with director Jean-Pierre Melville and stars Alain Delon, Yves Montand, and André Bourvil
  • Original theatrical trailer and 2003 Rialto Pictures rerelease trailer
  • Production and publicity stills, poster gallery (DVD only)
  • New English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring new essays by film critics Michael Sragow and Chris Fujiwara, excerpts from Melville on Melville, a reprinted interview with composer Eric Demarsan, and an appreciation from director John Woo
    New cover by Art Chantry Design Co.

Purchase Options

Special Features

  • Newly restored uncut version, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • Excerpts from Cinéastes de notre temps: “Jean-Pierre Melville”
  • New video interviews with assistant director Bernard Stora and Rui Nogueria, the author of Melville on Melville
  • Thirty minutes of rare on-set and archival footage, featuring interviews with director Jean-Pierre Melville and stars Alain Delon, Yves Montand, and André Bourvil
  • Original theatrical trailer and 2003 Rialto Pictures rerelease trailer
  • Production and publicity stills, poster gallery (DVD only)
  • New English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring new essays by film critics Michael Sragow and Chris Fujiwara, excerpts from Melville on Melville, a reprinted interview with composer Eric Demarsan, and an appreciation from director John Woo
    New cover by Art Chantry Design Co.
Le cercle rouge
Cast
Alain Delon
Corey
André Bourvil
Captain Mattei
Gian Maria Volonté
Vogel
Yves Montand
Jansen
Paul Crauchet
The fence
Paul Amiot
Chief of Internal Affairs
Pierre Collet
Prison guard
André Ekyan
Rico
Jean-Pierre Posier
Mattei's assistant
François Périer
Santi
Credits
Director
Jean-Pierre Melville
Producer
Robert Dorfmann
Sound
Jean Nény
Sets
Théo Meurisse
Cinematography
Henri Decaë
Music
Eric Demarsan
Editing
Marie-Sophie Dubus
Cameraman
Charles-Henri Montel
Costumes
Colette Baudot
Assistant director
Bernard Stora

From The Current

Le cercle rouge: What Is the Red Circle?
Le cercle rouge: What Is the Red Circle?

Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, drew a circle with a piece of red chalk and said: “When men, even unknowingly, are to meet one day, whatever may befall each, whatever their diverging paths, on the said day, they will inevitably come together in …

By Chris Fujiwara

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Saluting Melville in Bryn Mawr

Repertory Picks

Saluting Melville in Bryn Mawr

In celebration of Jean-Pierre Melville’s centennial year, the Bryn Mawr Film Institute presents one of the director’s most masterful thrillers.

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From the Melville Archives
From the Melville Archives

On the ninety-ninth anniversary of Jean-Pierre Melville’s birth, we’ve gathered a selection of essays, photos, and videos that showcase the best of the iconic director’s varied oeuvre.

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What’s in a Name

Dark Passages

What’s in a Name

If you consider noir as a global phenomenon, then films like Julien Duvivier’s Pépé le moko (1937), Jean Renoir’s La bête humaine (1938), and Carné’s Port of Shadows (1938) may be the first full harvest of this bitter crop.

By Imogen Sara Smith

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Andrew Loog Oldham’s Top 10

Andrew Loog Oldham was the manager of the Rolling Stones and Marianne Faithfull from 1963–1967.


Music for Melville: Composer Eric Demarsan

After Army of Shadows, Melville and I stayed in touch . . . One day, he announced: “I’m going to make a new film. You’re not composing the score for it; I’ve contacted Michel Legrand . . .” Of course, I was disappointed. We’d just had …


Melville on Le cercle rouge

The following is excerpted from Melville on Melville, a book-length interview by Rui Nogueira first published in 1971. How do you feel about your twelfth film, Le cercle rouge? Since there’s no knowing if there will be a thirteenth, l have to t…


Le Cercle Rouge: Great Blasphemies

With his 1970 gangster epic Le cercle rouge, Jean-Pierre Melville finally landed his white whale. The French maverick who changed his last name from Grumbach out of admiration for Herman Melville had long since established himself as that most c…

By Michael Sragow


Honor, Loyalty, and Friendship: John Woo on Le cercle rouge
Honor, Loyalty, and Friendship: John Woo on Le cercle rouge

I believe in my world. I believe in brotherhood and everything that goes with it. Like honor, loyalty, and friendship. The reason why Le cercle rouge is a classic gangster film is because it embodies this kind of romanticism. For me, there are two g…

By John Woo

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Johnnie To’s Top 10

Prolific Hong Kong filmmaker Johnnie To has directed more than forty films, including Election, Exiled, and Mad Detective. His latest, Vengeance, is currently in some North American theaters, from IFC Films.


Explore

Jean-Pierre Melville

Director

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.