|Jean-Pierre Melville (centre) and the cast from Red Circle|
Francois Perier, Andre Bourvil, Yves Montand, Alain Delon
Last week the news was sent out about a forthcoming season of films at the Randwick Ritz by the French master Jean-Pierre Melville (1917-73), presented in association with Cinema Reborn.
Six of Melville’s films will screen at the Ritz each Sunday at 4.00 pm starting on 4 October. All are superb new digital restorations. They cover early work that influenced the French New Wave, two films which recall Melville’s own brave role as a combatant in the French Resistance during WW2 and key late career works devoted to the crime genre.
Allocated seating will apply and may be limited.
The Ritz’s Covid-19 protocols are set out on its website and provide for spaced seating (family members may sit together) and payment by card only. Full details of the Covid-Safe arrangements are set out here https://www.ritzcinemas.com.au/covid19
Concession parking is available next to the cinema.
The program and a link to bookings for each film are set out below.
The notes are reprinted by kind permission of Dr Adrian Danks, co-curator of the Melbourne Cinematheque, Associate Professor, School of Media & Communication RMIT University and undoubtedly Australia's greatest enthusiast for the cinema of Jean-Pierre Melville
|Alain Delon, Red Circle|
Sunday 4 October - LE CERCLE ROUGE/RED CIRCLE (1970, 140 mins)
A man is released from a 5-year prison term on the same day a convicted murderer escapes from a train. The two men’s paths cross and, together with an alcoholic ex-cop, they plan the perfect heist (an astonishing, completely wordless 30-minute masterstroke). This was Melville’s biggest commercial success in France and perhaps his most perfectly realised crime film. The flawless cast features a set of quintessential Melvillian trench coated anti-heroes played by Alain Delon, Yves Montand and Gian Maria Volonté.
|Roger Duchesne, Bob Le Flambeur|
Sunday 11 October - BOB LE FLAMBEUR/BOB THE GAMBLER (1956,98 mins)
Melville’s highly influential, playful gangster film lovingly sketches Montmartre as both a realistic geography and a cartoon milieu of two-bit criminal Paris. An homage to the mood and atmosphere of the American gangster film, its low-budget joie de vivreand existential world-weariness paved the way for the nouvelle vague. Evocatively shot and featuring a magnificently cool and knowing performance by Roger Duchesne as the compulsive gambler Bob.
|Jean-Paul Belmondo, Le Doulos |
Sunday 18 October - LE DOULOS/DOULOS - THE FINGER MAN (1963, 108 mins)
“One must choose. To die… or to lie.” Melville’s rigorously directed and intricately plotted tale of self-defined morality in the criminal underworld focuses on a convict who seeks revenge for the murder of his girlfriend. This is the first of Melville’s explicitly modernist crime films in which the world created appears predetermined, patterned, curiously abstract, almost geometric. Serge Reggiani and Jean-Paul Belmondo perfectly ‘impersonate’ the Hollywood film noir anti-heroes so admired by the director since the early 1930s. Also features Michel Piccoli.
|Jean-Paul Belmondo, Emmanuelle Riva, Leon Morin, Priest|
Sunday 25 October - LÉON MORIN, PRÊTRE/LEON MORIN, PRIEST (1961, 117 mins)
A priest helps a disillusioned war widow during WWII. Sometimes regarded as his first ‘mature’ work, Melville’s quiet film explores the psychology and humanity of the priest (a soulful and restrained Jean-Paul Belmondo) and the woman (an intense Emmanuelle Riva) through a series of moral, aesthetic and theological discussions set against the meticulously detailed period of the Occupation. Shot by regular collaborator Henri Decaë and Jean Rabier, with assistant direction from Volker Schlöndorff.
|Simone Signoret, Lino Ventura, Army of the Shadows|
Sunday 1 November - L’ARMÉE DES OMBRES/ARMY OF THE SHADOWS (1969,145 mins)
“Bad memories, welcome… you are my long lost youth.” Often seen as a transposition of Melville’s beloved gangster genre to the underworld of the Resistance in wartime France, this unbearably moving reverie faithfully adapts Joseph Kessel’s seminal novel to the screen. The film’s dream-like, almost clandestine sense of geography, place and period is matched to the soulful, autumnal mood created by cinematographer Pierre Lhomme. Perhaps the greatest cinematic testament to the lived experience of the French Resistance. Featuring beautifully modulated performances by Lino Ventura, Paul Meurisse and Simone Signoret.
|Alain Delon, Catherine Deneuve, Un Flic|
Sunday 8 November - UN FLIC/DIRTY MONEY (1972, 98 mins)
Melville’s last film is an ideal - if bracingly pessimistic - final testament. Opening with one of the greatest sequences of the director’s career, a brilliantly atmospheric and typically elemental seaside heist, it provides a distillation of Melville’s career and his characteristically obsessive preoccupations. A melancholic and metallic blue sheen imbues the film and its characters with a death-like pallor fully appropriate to this fatalistic tale. It focuses on the relentless pursuit of criminals and the close bond between the almost somnambulistic detective (Alain Delon) and the chief suspect (Richard Crenna). With Catherine Deneuve.
We hope you will come along and discover, perhaps again, the art of one of France’s greatest film-makers.