Reckless Review: UN FLIC

Every year, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) throws a few surprises into their Summer Under The Stars (SUTS) programming. As you may know, SUTS means each day in August is dedicated to the films of a single brilliant star. Along with actors you might expect, such as Humphrey Bogart (Aug. 1) and Bette Davis (Aug. 14), TCM always includes a few surprising choices. For instance, I don’t know of any other cable channel that would run nearly 24 hours of silent films, but that’s exactly what happened on Ramon Novarro‘s day (August 8). If you missed Ben-Hur (1925) starring Novarro and Francis X. Bushman, you really should check it out.

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The other somewhat unconventional and totally welcome choice in the SUTS mix this year is Catherine Deneuve (Monday, August 12). As I said on Jean Gabin day in 2011…big ups to TCM for running 24 hours of subtitles. (Actually, there is one English-language Deneuve film, The Hunger, showing at 4:15 a.m. on Tuesday, August 13. But still…it’s not something you see every day.)

Of Monday’s films, I highly recommend Un flic (1972). It’s showing at noon on Monday and stars Deneuve, Alain Delon and Richard Crenna, directed by Jean-Pierre Melville.

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Un flic is French for “a cop;” the film’s American title is less ambiguous: Dirty Money. Delon plays the title role, a brutal, not-so-clean police commissioner, who suspects that his friend, a nightclub owner (Crenna), is behind a series of bank robberies and drug deals. Cathy (Deneuve) is caught between them, sleeping with both and keeping both their secrets. Her model beauty and perfectly coiffed hair belie the anxiety in her nervous gestures and darting eyes. It’s a small part but a memorable one.

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Melville is one of my favorite directors, he does crime pictures as well as anyone. His newsreel-style, on-location filmmaking was influential on Jean-Luc Godard (whose use of jump cuts was inspired by Melville). This was Melville’s last film, and like my favorite Le samouraï, Un flic may as well have been shot in the black and white of a film noir…cold desaturated colors, dark rooms, inky shadows. Thematically it’s as melancholy as any noir, and the line between the lawman and the criminal is as hazy as dusk in the Paris of Melville’s creation…this isn’t Woody Allen’s City of Lights. Part of it is unbelievable (you’ll know it when you see it), and I’m pretty sure Crenna was dubbed, but these are minor details in a suspenseful and enjoyable neo-noir.

UPDATE: No worries if you missed this on Deneuve day and you have Netflix. I searched the site on the off chance they would have Un flic on DVD, and lo and behold, not only do they have it, it’s also streaming. C’est super!

6 thoughts on “Reckless Review: UN FLIC

  1. likAs usual Paula, I always enjoy reading your blogs. I like that TCM is including foreign stars in SUTS. I will watch a few, and I will watch at 8. It’s hard to read a movie, and tweet at the same time. Count me in.

    1. Thanks Taylor! Yes, subtitled movies are beyond my Twitter powers, as are silents. Which is why someone else is doing Umbrellas of Cherbourg 😉 See you tonight.

  2. I quite like Melville’s Le samouraï, w/ the oh-so-gorgeous Alain Delon. I definitely will try to see this one day. I hope Netflix streaming has it. Great review Paula!

    1. Thanks Ruth! It does indeed stream on Netflix. SAMOURAI is an all-time fave of mine. Yep, Delon’s a looker…if you get a chance you might want to check out LES FELINS with him as well…it’s a great thriller and I don’t think he ever looked better.

      1. I REALLY need to see more Delon films! I remember my late mom talked about him as I believe he has a line of eye wear bearing his name (brand name is actually Alain Delon) and she mentioned that when we were at an optical shop 😀 Yes, absolutely gorgeous, so I’ll check out Les Felins. I hope he’s not as taciturn in that one though.

        1. You do! 🙂 Alain Delon shades…Chow Yun-Fat wore them in A Better Tomorrow. There’s also AD cologne, watches, clothing and cigarettes. There used to be a web site alaindelon.com, where you could buy all of it, but the page doesn’t seem to be working any more. I meant to find a pack of the cigarettes and take a picture when we went to Paris, but in all the excitement, I forgot. He talks a LOT more in Felins, completely different character.

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