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Samourai, Le (The Godson)

Director(s): Jean-Pierre Melville

Theatrical Release: 1967

Cast: Alain Delon, Natalie Delon, Cathy Rosier, Francois Perier, Michel Boisrond, Carlo Nell

Genre(s): Thriller, crime, gangs/mafia/triad/yakuza, Criterion Collection, Dean's List

Countries: France, Italy


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Running Time: 105m.

Long considered a classic of European film noir, this existential gangster drama from French director Jean-Pierre Melville was released in the United States only in a severely truncated, re-edited, and overdubbed version entitled The Godson. Thirty years after its initial public airing, Le Samourai (1967) finally saw a limited American release in its intended form. Alain Delon stars as Jef Costello, a professional Parisian assassin-for-hire who, by nature of his work's solitary demands, has no friends. Although he is loved by Jane Lagrange (Natalie Delon, the star's real-life wife), Costello knows that Jane already has a lover. After he successfully wipes out a nightclub owner at the behest of his boss, Costello discovers that he was seen by the club's pianist, Valerie (Cathy Rosier). Although he survives a police lineup thanks to a lie offered up by the fearless Valerie, Costello's alibi disintegrates rapidly and his shadowy employer takes out a contract on him. As he seeks revenge on his betrayer, Costello must also stay one step ahead of a wily, determined superintendent (Francois Perier). Melville's film influenced several other filmmakers and projects, most notably director John Woo's The Killer (1989). -- Karl Williams (allmovie.com)

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Criterion Collection DVD #306 Special Features:

+ New, restored high-definition digital transfer

+ New video interviews with Rui Nogueira, author 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

+ Theatrical trailer

+ New and improved English subtitle translation
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