Made after three years 'in the wilderness' for Melville, this is his most elaborate and intricately plotted film noir, a labyrinthine exploration of loyalties and betrayals in the French underworld. It centres on an ageing gangster (Ventura at his most gnarled), in hiding after escaping from jail, who involves himself in a daring highway robbery while waiting to be smuggled out of the country. The steely location photography gives the action a veneer of realism, but the film's real energies are subterranean, and suffused with Melville's typical poetry: the bizarre interdependence of cop and criminal here is seen with the same eyes as the passionate love/hate of the brother and sister in Les Enfants Terribles.
Le Deuxième Souffle
Cast and crew