Thursday, June 30, 2016

Le Deuxieme Souffle (1966)

Le deuxième souffle is a French Neo Noir policier/gangster thriller. Directed by Jean-Pierre Melville (Bob le Flambeur (1956), Two Men in Manhattan (1959), Le Doulos (1962), Le Samouraï (1967), Le Cercle Rouge (1970),  Un Flic (1972)). The film stars Lino Ventura as Gustave Minda, Paul Meurisse as Inspector Blot and Raymond Pellegrin as Paul Ricci, Marcel Bozzuffi as Jo Ricci, Christine Fabréga as Manouche, Michel Constantin as Alban and Pierre Zimmer as Orloff. Cinematography was by Marcel Combes, and music by Bernard Gérard.

Crash out!

Gu Minda (Ventura)
Gu Minda (Ventura) Public Enemy No. 1. Ex-Big shot. Gold train job. Doing life. Ten Years so far. Crashes out of Maximum. On the lam. A decade older. He's slowing down. But still tough. Heads for Paris.

Paul Ricci (Pellegrin) and informer

Paul Ricci's Marseille nightclub
Paul Ricci (Pellegrin) Marseille gangster. Nightclub front. Plans inside job. Platinum armoured car ambush. 1,100 pounds.

Manouche (Christine Fabréga)
 Manouche (Fabréga) ex-girlfriend of Gu runs a Paris cafe. She's palling around with Jacques, "le notaire" who runs the illegal cigarettes rackett with Jo (Bozzuffi) and Paul Ricci. But Jacques is a screw up and Paul wants him out.

Paul Ricci gets some relatives to whack Jacques. Jacques is cowboyed down in front of Manouche at her cafe. Alban good friend of Gu and Manouche's bartender/bodyguard protects her shoots it out with the assassins.

The shootout brings the big heat. Inspector Blot (Meurisse). Blot is a hardboiled vet of the Paris underworld. He knows he's dealing with various factions of the mob and that he'll get no info from all involved. It's all a comedy routine with him as he pokes fun at the principals involved at the crime scene.

Crime scene investigation Alban and Blot (Paul Meurisse)
Manouche without Jaques is shaken down by Jo Ricci. An attempt is made three days later after closing time by two thugs pretending to be crooked cops at her Paris house. They gun whip Alban. He sees stars. Hears birdies chirp. He goes down. They confront Manouche asking for money but they are interrupted by the arrival of Gu who gets the drop on them. Gu and Alban take the two for a ride.

Paul Ricci meanwhile plans his armoured car capper. He's got two trusted goons Pascal Leonetti (Pierre Grasset) and gypsy Antoine Ripa (Denis Manuel) in Marseille but he needs a second shooter. He knows that freelance gunman Orloff (Zimmer) is passing through town and thinks that the chance to make 200 million francs will convince him to join them. Orloff says he needs a week to think it over.

Orloff (Zimmer)
Gu wants to take out Jo Ricci but Blot and the cops figure it out and stake out Jo's bar. Gu gets a second sense about the setup and backs out. He heads to Marseille to catch a boat out of the country where he runs into Orloff who tips Gu to the platinum job. Gu sees $$. So Gu agrees to help Paul Ricci. The job goes well but things go South to Noirsville in the aftermath.


Lino Ventura is memorable as Gustave, the hardcase criminal who faces all bad choices. Paul Meurisse is great as the sarcastic and assertive Inspector Blot.

Screencaps are from the Criterion DVD. 8/10

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