Le Samourai

"There is no greater solitude than that of the Samourai's, unless it is that of the tiger in the jungle." The Bushido

"There is no greater solitude than that of the Samouri's, unless it is that of the tiger in the jungle " The Bushido


Le Samourai (1967) is a master filmmakers crowning jewel.

Directed by Jean-Pierre Melville.

Starring Alain Delon, Francois Perie and Nathalie Delon.

Le Samourai can best be described as a minimalists study of a solitary assassin's isolated life. I've attached the opening scene below to illustrate and illuminate the minimalists visual style. Look at the greys and blues in the scene below, it sets the tone and mood of the film. The cigarette smoke that lingers in the air over Alain Delon, who we suddendly realize is lying in bed, fully dressed. Delon is like a tiger in the jungle; silent, isolated and solitary, waiting for his prey.

Melville's quote in the opening credits from The Bushido does not exist, Jean-Pierre made that quote up himself. Melville intrigued me so, I read up on him. Melville was in the French army when Germany invaded France in WWII. So, when France put down its arms peacefully, Melville, went to Britain to fight against Hilter. Melville, became a hero for The French Underground who were fighting the Germans occupying France.

After the war when the French film unions would not let him join, he began his own film production company. Melville started making films without permission from writers he had taken material from and filmed on location (a rarity in France at the time) without French Film Permits. Melville went on to inspire The French New Wave filmmakers.  Melville, goes on to play the writer in Jean-Luc Godard's French New Wave masterpiece, A Bout De Souffle - Breathless (1960). Later, Melville would renounced the very French New Wave movement he had inspired.

Alain, could be considered Melville's film alter ego, like Alfred Hitchcock's film alter ego was Cary Grant. Alain like Melville was a military man and not one to follow rules. Alain fought in Indochina as a French Marine. He was discharged from the Military after many fist fights with superiors. Alain, is oh so subtle in this film. This guy never took acting classes, but he was a born Method Actor. I love watching his thoughts run across his face as he carefully listens to his scene partners.

The producers of the James Bond films should have hired Alain to replace Sean Connery when Sean retired from the franchise. Ian Fleming wrote that James Bond's mother (Monique Delacroix Bond) was French. A French/Scottish lad working for Her Majesties Secret Service. The irony and background story would have been priceless. At only 5'10" he would have been on the short side, but Alain would be the same height as Daniel Craig, who is very much in the vain of Sean Connery, albeit with blond locks.

Trivia - The opening quote from The Bushido Book does not exist, Melville made it all up.