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Le Cercle Rouge Review

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Noir-ish urban Western which sees Jean-Pierre Melville bond three desperate men in crime.

★★★★

Howard Hawks would be proud of the professionalism and ingrained sense of honour displayed by the trio enmeshed in this existential crime thriller.

Each is being pursued - Alain Delon by the mob, Gian Maria Volonte by detective Bourvil, and bent cop Yves Montand by the demons that drove him to drink - and their alliance to rob a jewellery store is one of convenience.

Yet such is the air of doomed inevitability that pervades this noir-ish urban Western that the bonds between them only strengthen in the face of club owner Franþois Perier's treachery.

The patron saint of maverick moviemakers, Jean-Pierre Melville stages the heist with the meticulous rigour of Dassin or Bresson. But he's far more concerned with the psychological state of his anti-heroes, which he explores as much through their iconic props as their coolly dispassionate performances.

A classic cornerstone of the heist genre from a master of the nouvelle vague.