(1969) France, The Resistance: an escape from the Gestapo, so sudden and hairsbreadth as to leave the toughest of tough guys gasping with the icy sweat of terror and relief; two brothers remain unaware, to the end, of each other’s clandestine activities; patriots who, in relentless pursuit of traitors, must steel themselves to the most brutal of face-to-face violence. Lino Ventura (Elevator to the Gallows, Classe Tous Risques, etc.), aided by compatriots including maitresse of disguise Simone Signoret, goes underground in face of the German Occupation – but the price of heroism can be truly horrific.
Precursor of the New Wave and legend of the French gangster film Jean-Pierre Melville (Bob Le Flambeur, Le Cercle Rouge, Le Samourai) realized the dream of a quarter century when he adapted “the book of the Resistance,” written by Joseph Kessel (Belle de Jour) in the white heat of immediacy. Melville turned the detached, unblinking gaze of his film noir classics on these memories of his youth – he himself served for years underground – adding a jarring finale of his own, so stoically uncompromising as to reduce Kessel himself to sobs on his first viewing. But Army of Shadows shared in the general U.S. indifference to Melville's now-acclaimed-as-classic oeuvre and was never released here -- until now. Original cinematographer Pierre Lhomme personally supervised this superb new 35mm color restoration.
Rotten Tomatoes Score:
Joseph Kessel, Jean-Pierre Melville
Lino Ventura, Paul Meurisse, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Simone Signoret, Claude Mann, Paul Crauchet
French, German, English
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