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Alain Delon is a great cinematic cad. Staring at him on the screen for a few minutes, you sense that Delon will screw everyone over to get his way. He’s cold blooded and always in motion. He’s as smooth, handsome and sleek as any shark photographed by Jacques Cousteau. Alain Delon – 5 Film Collection presents a selection of his headlining work over two decades.
Diaboliquement Votre (1967 – 93 minutes) opens with Delon recovering from a major head trauma. He can’t remember anything. The film isn’t Regarding Henry as Delon recovers his memory. Instead it turns into a strange thriller as it appears that people around him are forcing memories into his head through various means. It’s very French in its pacing. Delon looks perfect as the amnesiac. He emanates an attitude that he doesn’t want to know or remember anything around him.
La Piscine (1969 – 121 minutes) is classic French cinema with plenty of brooding, intellectual posturing and exposed flesh to make you feel adult. Instead of the hustle and bustle of Paris, the location is a villa in St.Tropez. Alain Delon is a writer whose last book tanked so he’s had to get a real job. He’s now on vacation with his fiance, Romy Schneider. The villa has an large swimming pool that gets plenty of use. They get an unexpected visit from Maurice Ronet, and his 18 year old daughter, Jane Birkin. Turns out that Ronet has a history with the couple since he dated Romy before Delon. Things get weird within the foursome. Ronet gets chummy with Romy. Delon grows jealous of the ex-lover with his fear that Ronet wants Romy back. Complicating Delon is his lust for for the bikini-clad Birkin. The film could erupt into a sex romp around the pool, but quickly shifts into CSI: Saint-Tropez. Will the police find out what really happened at the swimming pool?
La Veuve Couderc (1971 – 89 minutes) lets Delon play a recently released prisoner who lands a gig on a farm. Simone Signoret, the mature widow who owns the place, takes a shine to the hired help. She wants more than the back forty hoed by Delon. Her sister-in-law’s daughter proves a distraction since she’s a major skank. Simon fears losing Delon to the young nubile town slut. How do you keep a stud like Delon faithful? The tone of the film is rather poignant instead of playing for laughs the concept of an old woman seducing the young stud. Can she succeed in her sexual desires in a post-World War I France? The big finale involves the locals finding out Delon’s true identity. Turns out he’s been lying to the widow. The authorities arrive and the action goes into overdrive. For such a quiet film, it ends with major banging.
Le Gitan (1975 – 103 minutes) is a crime thriller with Delon playing a gypsy wanted for murder. Instead of laying low from the law, the defiant Delon goes on a robbery spree with his crew. He needs to collect cash to help support his gypsy tribe that’s forced to camp out by a French town’s dump. Delon’s huge mustache makes him look more intimidating as he pulls off various heists. For fans of Seventies Euro fashion, you’ll get a laugh out of a club owner’s massive bowties. The film is good and intense when it focuses on Delon. But they have a second storyline about an old burglar pulling off a major jewel heist. By splitting our attention, Le Gitan kills the momentum. This my favorite of Delon’s performances in the boxset so the film could have used a lot more of him and his role in the gypsy tribe.
Notre Histoire (1984 – 111 minutes) allows Delon to play against his cad image. He’s a depressed drunk riding on a train. In the middle of the trip, a woman (Nathalie Baye) wanders into his compartment. She tells him a story which includes a proposition for recreational sex. He takes up her offer, but he’s not in the mood for a quickie. He follows her home. Turns out that she’s the village tramp, but that doesn’t affect his affections for her. He doesn’t want to leave. She does her best to shake him including bringing back another businessman. The film becomes an absurd comedy as Delon turns screwing a local wife into a spectator sport. The final reel transforms the movie into a ghost story. This isn’t a good film to watch with someone who constantly asks, “What’s going on?” Even with all the talk about sex, there’s very little shown on screen. Most of the nudity is veiled through silk nightgowns. The big highlight of the film is a guest appearance from Jean Reno (Leon). Two titans of French cool share the screen although it would be years before Reno would become an international stud like Delon.
If you enjoyed Delon in Jean-Pierre Melville’s Le Samourai, this collection provides more of his shark attitude along with exposing that he has an emotional range. He did have a human side beneath his steely gaze. The jealous husband of La Piscine is not the same character found in Notre Histoire. He’s not the same fugitive in La Veuve Couderc and Le Gitan. Delon didn’t give the same performance in each movie. The collection makes a great case for why Delon is a French acting icon on par with Gerard Depardieu and Jean-Paul Belmondo. He was more than a cinematic cad, but I still won’t trust him with my popcorn.
The video for all five films is 1.66 anamorphic. There are black bars on the right and left sides of the screen to maintain the aspect ratio. The transfers for all five films look clean. These are much better than those 16mm prints your international studies classes rented. The French audio track is Dolby Digital Mono. The subtitles are in English and Spanish.
After watching the 5-Film Collection, I’ve gained a deeper admiration for Alain Delon. This is a fine introductory collection for the casual viewer of French cinema.
Lionsgate presents Alain Delon 5-Film Collection. Starring Alain Delon, Jane Birkin and Jean Reno. Five films on three DVDs. Not Rated Released on DVD: March 25, 2008. Available at Amazon.com.