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French Noir - Themes and characters in Le Samouraï, Shoot the Piano Player and Rififi

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  • French Noir - Themes and characters in Le Samouraï, Shoot the Piano Player and Rififi

    This is my first post on this site, and I thought I would kick it off with a little discussion on what I think are some rather overlooked films. I am a film student at college and part of a study I am doing is on the evolution of French Noir, so anyone's input would be fantastic.
    'Le Samouraï' is an absolute gem of a film, and Alain Delon's Jef Costello is one of the coolest characters in cinema, in my opinion. He evidently provides inspiration for Gosling's character in 'Drive' and portrays the atmosphere of isolation continuously through the film. I would appreciate anyone's thoughts on isolation and solitude in the film, and how Melville goes about showing these themes (I noticed the obvious lack of dialogue in the opening sequence, the apparent executive decision to make money black and white in a colour film, the barred windows in the apartment etc.). Any comments at all would be appreciated.
    'Shoot the Piano Player' is, in my opinion, a truly unique noir film as it has all the makings of a typical New Wave movie (lens flares, shooting on location, nudity, even some of the same characters from 'The 400 Blows'!) yet it seems to satirically destroy what American noir built up in the 30s/40s, with sometimes wandering dialogue, subtle humour throughout and particularly a lack of specific crime (in the sense that it seems to be more of a film of romantic redemption and tragedy, with only the occasional scenes of gangsters). Again, any thoughts and additional input on this film would be appreciated.
    'Rififi' is the go-to French noir film and has a pretty impressive heist set piece, that takes up a large amount of the film. It seems to be the film, out of the three, that sticks to classic conventions most closely, and has the femme-fetale (Juan Cesar giving his mistress the ring) and a heavy focus on the crime element. It has the anti-hero, which I would argue Alain Delon and Charles Aznavour are in both of their respective roles, and almost closes the classic noir era, as 'Shoot the Piano Player' really goes against most of the conventions used in 'Rififi'. I am not sure the themes of isolation and Americanophilia, that are rife in the other two films, are as evident in this film, but anyone who can point out any instances would really help.

    Again, this is my first post and any comments would really help my research for my study. Thank you and I look forward to hearing any replies!
    Last edited by jakebristow1999; 10th January 2018, 06:58 PM.

  • #2
    If you say 'Jef Costello is one of the coolest characters in cinema' I say Sammy Rice is the most coolest.

    You shouldn't be upset that Frenchmen 'seem to satirically destroy what American noir built up in the 30s/40s'; that is the French way.

    Have you seen any good noir films in colour?

    Why are you studying French Noir? Don't you find it a chore studying coolness, black and white money, lens flare, nudity, subtle humour all at the same time as reading ill-synchronised subtitles?

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