Le Samourai

Director: Jean-Pierre Melville

France-Italy| 1967. With: François Perier| Nathalie Delon. English subtitles. Colour. 105 mins.

Based on an original script, Melville’s most celebrated film is the story of Jef Costello, a contract killer who is double-crossed by his employer. In the impassive ‘lone world’ Jef, played to cool perfection by Alain Delon, Melville merges the ethos of the Japanese samurai with the figure of the classic Hollywood gangster (evoking in particular Alan Ladd in This Gun for Hire). The definitive study of a ritualised, melancholic masculinity, filmed in a grey-blue Paris which matches Delon’s eyes, Le Samourai is considered by many to be Melville’s finest achievement.

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