Jean-Pierre Melville's film on the French Resistance, L'armee des ombres (1969), drawn from a novel by Joseph Kessel. Melville is best known for his philosophical pastiches of American gangster films (Le samourai, Le doulos), and some of their distinctive rhythms—aching stillness relieved by sharp flurries of action—survive here. The film is long and episodic, strangely divided between art-house enigmas and melodramatic payoffs for the matinee crowd. The unifying theme is one of perverse nostalgia for the good old/bad old days. With Lino Ventura, Simone Signoret, and Jean-Pierre Cassel. In French with subtitles. 145 min.
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