“The Samurai” (1967) directed by Jean-Pierre Melville, starring Alain Delon / Z-View

The Samurai (1967)

Director:  Jean-Pierre Melville

Screenplay: Jean-Pierre Melville, Georges Pellegrin

Stars: Alain Delon, François Périer, Nathalie Delon and Cathy Rosier.

Tagline: There is no solitude greater than that of the samurai.

The Plot…

Jef Costello (Delon) is a contract killer for the mob.  As Costello walks away from a hit on a nightclub owner, he is seen by the club’s pianist (Rosier).  Soon Costello is brought in for a police line-up.  Rosier and a few other potential witnesses fail to identify Jef as the killer.  Although the police don’t have enough evidence to hold him, the commissaire still believes Jef is the killer.

When Jef goes to collect his fee for the hit, he is almost killed by the mob.  They believe that Jef is now compromised.  They believe that if the police bring Jef in for the killing, it will put them at risk.  Their plan is to kill Jeff.  Meanwhile the police are closing in.

Alone and without friends or resources, what chance does one man have against the mob and the police?

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Jean-Pierre Melville wrote the screenplay specifically for Alain Delon to star.  This, of course, made Alain Delon the perfect choice for the role.  Kudos also to Cathy Rosier.  I wish we got to see her in many more roles.

The Samurai is one of the most influential films in the history of cinema. John Woo’s The Killer and Jim Jarmusch’s Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai are two examples of films that can be traced back to The Samurai.  Other directors similarly influenced include Walter Hill, John Frankenheimer, Michael Mann, Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, David Fincher and many others.

The film is included on Roger Ebert’s “Great Movies” list and THE 1001 MOVIES YOU MUST SEE BEFORE YOU DIE, edited by Steven Schneider and Ian Haydn Smith.

When The Samurai was released in the US, it was titled The Godson to cash in on the success of The Godfather.

The Samurai has an almost dream-like feel at times.  Hats off to Jean-Pierre Melville for having the vision and talent to bring everything together to make a classic film.

The Samurai has an 8.0 rating on the IMDb.  At Rotten Tomatoes it has an 100% rating with critics and 94% with audiences.

The Samurai (1967) rates 4 of 5 stars.