Samourai Guy

Champs visuels

Regular Shadowplayer Guy Budziak provides the front-cover pulchritude for this new film book by highly-esteemed (by me, but not just me) French cinema expert Ginette Vincendeau, with a Film Noir Woodcut of Alain Delon in LE SAMOURAI. Remember, Guy is there for all your film noir woodcut requirements.

And I’ll soon be running another woodcut-based banner here, hopefully.


34 Responses to “Samourai Guy”

  1. Did you know that Alain Delon is so popular in Japan that there are Shinjuku district bars entirely decorated with pictures of him?

    Did you know that Alain Delon is the favorite movie star of the Vatican’s College of Cardianals?

    Did you know that Alain Delon was, uh, discovered by Jean-Claude Brialy?

    Did you know that Pierre Clementi was, uh, discovered by Alain Delon?

    Did you know that Ari Paffgen is the spitting image of the father who never officially recognized him as his son?

  2. David E.,
    While I didn’t know any of the above nuggets of Delon information, with the exception of Ari (No way can Alain deny parentage), I do know this: Far and away, my LE SAMOURAI print receives internet hits worldwide that far exceed anything else I’ve done. I’m told (by Vincendeau herself) that it may have something to do with the image’s iconic quality. So I don’t doubt the veracity of any of the items in your list. And my thanks to you, David Cairns, for the plug, I owe you one. Also, for the record, there are two previous editions of this book, both in English, entitled STARS AND STARDOM IN FRENCH CINEMA.

  3. It is indeed exceptionally iconic. Even for a star as iconic as Delon already was before making it. When Melville made his films everyone though of the fedoras and trenchcoats his anti-heroes wore as being anachonistic. Today when we see fedoras and trenchcoats we think Jean-Pierre Melville

  4. Not timely, but timeless.

  5. He’s quite a sinister character, by all accounts. But a great star.

    I love the story Melville tells, of reading the whole script out to Delon. At the end of it, Delon silently got up and led Melville into the next room, where he had a samurai sword hanging on the wall. Wow! (Theory: when Melville rang up to say he had a script called Le Samourai, Delon ran out and bought the sword. Hope he remembered to remove the price tag.)

    Hope we get another English edition of this book with your print on it, Guy.

  6. Arthur S. Says:

    Another Melville story I like relates to then Mrs. Alain Delon, Nathalie in the role of one of Jef Costello’s lovers who’s also a kept woman of some other guy. Melville says that their relationship was on the skids by the time they shot their final scene together. He noted that there was something odd about them because they looked alike and they seemed more like brother and sister than a couple. His own theory, “Pierre or the Ambiguities, what do I know?” Nice shout out to his man Melville there.

  7. Another great “pessimist” film, and one of my favourites, is Louis Malle’s LE FEU FOLLET.

  8. Ah yes. Starring Maurice Ronet, who Delon drowned twice. First in Plein Soleil then years later in La Piscine — which was relased (and was a great hit) at the time of the dead chauffeur scandal.

  9. It’s as if all those screen deaths prefigured his demise at the early age of 55.
    I’m a fan of Louis Malle’s work, especially Ascenseur pour l’échafaud, Atlantic City, My Dinner with Andre, Vanya on 42nd Street, Au revoir, les enfants and my favourite Feu Follet.

  10. Don’t do it, folks! You really need to buy the DVD for this one… I even spent money upgrading my VHS, because it just wouldn’t do.

  11. Well drop in just to give yourselves a taste.

  12. Arthur S. Says:

    Considering the ravishing use of desaturated cool colours courtesy Henri Decae, I’d consider seeing it on YouTube a human rights violation. Melville is the high priest of soft, misty grayish colours – he knew what it means to shoot black-and-white films in colour and yet use it in such a way it can’t ever be done or concieved in B+W. Melville is really a superlative master of use, tone, and emotion of colour.

    Like the close-up of Delon’s blue eyes when he gets into his car. Unforgettable.

  13. Yes, YouTube’s good for giving people a sample of something they might not otherwise get to know about. With Le Sam they have to imagine the film being about 1000X more beautiful than the YouTube image though.

  14. Make that 1000,000X.

  15. Arthur S. Says:

    I like YouTube as much as the next guy and if you want to see clips it’s okay but hosting and seeing the whole film there…but then Roberto Rossellini would probably say I am an idiot obsessed with an idea of a cinema which is dead(Godard’s recent “cinema is dead” proclamations is his attempt at doing a Rossellini imitation and failing spectacularly). Rossellini believed the future was in TV, today he’d call YouTube or Cell Phones the real deal and say TV is dead but then Rossellini is dead and we are spared that.

    I love J-P Melville. ”Bob le Flambeur”, ”Le Doulos”, ”Leon Morin, Pretre”(a weird strange film with one of Belmondo’s best performances) the Alain Delon trilogy, above all, one of the most beautiful films ever made, ”L’Armee des Ombres”, shot by Pierre Lhomme.

  16. Yes, L’Armee is my favourite of them all. I have that documentary now and must watch it. Also got his 24 hrs in the Life of a Clown…

    As to media, they are all just means of dissemination. But obviously they all have advantages and disadvantages. The cinema screen is for many the least convenient, but in other ways undisputably the best.

  17. Arthur S. Says:

    Melville disowned the film but it’s remarkably good for a guy whose prior cinematic experience was a small camera his parents gave him and obviously a very modest film. Still in comparison with ”Le Silence de la Mer”, his revolutionary first feature(literally he did it without getting a permission from the doxa and paid a fine…) it is a piece of juvenilia. Melville proudly boasted that when he talked to Jacques Becker about the film, Becker mentioned seeing it with Renoir and feeling miffed at the end. The reason – Renoir told him it was the best film he had seen in ten years and HE, Renoir’s ex-assistant had made films since then! Oh and the film had a huge influence on Bresson. “It is not Melville being Bressonian, it’s Bresson being Melvillian.”

    ”Les Enfants Terribles” his film with Cocteau(who displayed Selznickian tendencies to the extent that Melville had to ban him from the set later on) is also a masterpiece. A huge New Wave influence, Truffaut above all.

  18. I think I need to re-see Les Enfants T. When I first screened it I had trouble connecting it to other Melville, and even to Cocteau… it’s obviously a close collaboration, with elements of both.

    I found Le Silence de la Mer… very odd. I prefer L’Armee, but I’ll revisit Le Silence because it’s such a strange thing.

  19. When the doctor examines Edouard Dermithe it’s Cocteau’s heatbeats tha he hears. Isn’t that lovely?

  20. Les Enfants Terribles to Melville what Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne is to Bresson.

  21. Very lovely!

    Yet, Melville seemed content with Les ET, proud of what he achieved. I get the impression Bresson was less than satisfied with Les Dames, since he couldn’t make his actors not act.

  22. Well actually what happened was Bresson was pissed at Maria Casares who, knowing of his gigolo past, was puttin’ the moves on him.

    How rude!

    That’s why he switched to non-pros. Bresson had to be The Boss or Else.

    I go into this in my review of Anne Wiazemsky’s memoir “Jeune Fille” which should be appearing in the next issue of Film Comment.

  23. Cool. Every director has to find a way to be the boss, although sometimes that’s through the most agreeable collaboration. But it’s all a quest for divine power.

  24. Arthur S. Says:

    Melville’s approach to being the boss according to Bertrand Tavernier was being alternatively a martinet and alternatively Mr. Cool. Tavernier remembered that Melville would berate crew members in front of the whole set and Tavernier wasn’t spared. He also liked being on top. Like when Volker Schlondorff said that Eastmancolor was better than Technicolor, he immediately dragged him to the nearest theatre showing ”Heaven Can Wait” and made him weep.

  25. ——-
    Ah yes. Starring Maurice Ronet, who Delon drowned twice..
    Poor Maurice Ronet also came to an untimely end in Chabrol’s La Femme infidèle.

  26. Schloendorff clearly needed a Technicolor wake-up call. The fact that Technicolor doesn’t fade is another thing in its favour, which I guess people hadn’t realised yet.

    Poor Maurice Ronet!

  27. Apropos things French, has anyone seen Rivette’s “Ne touchez pas la hache”? Sadly, Guillaume Depardieu died last year. I thought he was very good in Pierre Salvadori’s funny “Les Apprentis”

  28. Guillaume Depardieu was a very sad case from Day One. A number of years back I interviewed Papa Depardieu here in L.A. where he had brought Guillaume for drug detox treatment. This was just before Guillaume’s acting career got off the ground. As it progressed the two became “don’t-invite-’ems” — especially after the accident that led to the loss of Guillaume’s leg. He was beyond brilliant in Ne touchez pas la hache

  29. Time for a song:

  30. I caught up with Ne Touchez Pas… recently and thought Guillame D was terrific in it.

  31. David Benson Says:

    It’s been a long time, Guy. I went to high school with you in Fowlerville. I’ll never forget the work you did as an artist there.

  32. Thanks for remembering David.

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