Jean-Pierre Melville's acutely minimalist take on American gangster films resulted in a formal probity unlike anything cinema has experienced before or since. Un Flic is his final contemplation of the genre he embraced. Both the reason for the opening heist and the rationale behind a seemingly well-heeled cabaret owner (Richard Crenna) acting as criminal mastermind remain in the shadows as Melville wisely sidesteps the planning and opens on action. Alain Delon is the cop assigned to the case, a world-weary dick who shares two things with his target: career fatigue and a whore named Cathy (played by a ravishing Catherine Deneuve). The story unfolds in furtive glances and artful gestures, the camera moving only when it needs to follow the action. Dialogue is kept to a minimum. The final blast of action plays out in the name of love. Not between characters, but from the director to a genre he spent a lifetime refining. 1972.

Scott Marks

This movie is not currently in theaters.

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