Well maybe not Sombreros but I couldn’t think of a hat that began with S other than a Stetson and Sombreros are way more sillier. Especially if you can imagine they all did wear sombreros, it would really cut through the fog thick tension in this excellent thriller. Le Doulos is a rough old time French translation for “hat” and the hat of choice for these Parisian gangsters is the Fedora. Another translation for this is also “informer” and maybe that snitch also wears a hat! And considering most these gangsters wear a hat, who could be the finger man, the informer?
Opening intro – “In Underworld slang, Doulos means “hat” but in the secret language of police and criminals Doulos is also the name given to the one who wears it….. The police informer!”
Director, writer and noir specialist, Jean-Pierre Melville crafts another superior gangster flick that twists and turns its way through the streets of Paris. Melville creates the most incredible slow burning minimalist film noir crime dramas which tend to have a signature tragic feel and edge to them. Like Le Samourai, every camera shot and angle are beautifully staged and with everyone standing around in their rain coats and fedora hats, they all look so incredibly cool.
After just being released from a six year stretch in prison, thief Maurice (Serge Reggiani) hasn’t learnt from his rehabilitation time away. That urge for jewels and money is just too much and it’s not long before he’s up to his old tricks. It’s only a matter of time until he’s teamed up with two other criminals for a big safe cracking job with the promise of a large haul. Joined by Rémy (Philippe Nahon) and Silien (Jean-Paul Belmondo) the story starts to unfold. Surely everything isn’t going to go to plan?
Hot on the case is Superintendent Clain (Jean Desailly) and his Inspector (Marcel Cuvelier) who try to catch these hoodlums and gangsters at their own game. When the criminals get brought in for questioning they start to realise someone is giving information out, an informer.
This is first rate crime story filled with moody, smokey atmosphere. The black and white print serves the dark backstreets of Paris so well with the light and darkness adding to the films gritty nature. Dapper clothes, guns, cigarettes and glum faces. This is essential viewing and what joy, I’m slowly working my way through Jean-Pierre Melville films and I know I’m in for a real treat. Even had to dig out my fedora to get that authentic feel.
Whats your thoughts on this one? Is it an old classic you’ve seen many moons ago? Maybe inspired to re-watch? or like me, it’s your first time sitting down with this French thriller? Let me know if you want to. Thanks for reading…. and remember snitches get stitches, so keep mum!
Mikey The Wolfman