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    The 10 Best Alain Delon Movies


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    Sometimes people with multiple talents and predicates are left behind over one-quality people. This happens because multiple attention focuses divide the perception and awareness of qualities.

    With that said, if you have one talented person, and a beautiful and equally talented person, you tend to say the ugly one is more talented because there’s a kind of division between the multiple talents. This was exactly what happened with Alain Delon throughout his career.

    The French actor was always connoted with indubitable beauty, charisma, and arrogance, suffering from some bipolarity from the press and critics; they either deified him or they destroyed him. Credited as a prominent sex symbol in the 60s, Delon passed his career struggling between the “pretty face” label and the “good actor” praise.


    At the start, his beauty was enough to ensure a cinema contract agreement, once the famous and controversial producer David O. Selznick offered him a contract deal based on his charismatic face, provided he learn English. Inspired by Marlon Brando, the young actor attracted the eyes of Melville, Visconti, Godard, Malle, and Antonioni, and built a very solid career, often being compared to Jean-Paul Belmondo, another landmark of French cinema.

    He was very close to Brigitte Bardot, and Delon had a life of love and hatred simplified by his relationship with Cannes; he had some of the best moments of his career at the festival, but also some constraints, as he was not invited to some major events of the Cannes Film Festival.

    Assumedly disappointed with the current film world, Delon is officially retired from films, but he would make an exception if Luc Besson or Roman Polanski enforced his services. While it hasn’t happened, Delon is more a brand than an actor, and he has his name associated with clothing, perfumes, glasses, and cigarettes.

    Even if he is a little forgotten these days, Taste of Cinema doesn’t forget about real actors. So, these are the 10 best Alain Delon films you need to watch to understand he was/is a beast of an actor, and not a simple brand as it seems today.

    10. The Swimming Pool (1969)


    If you are the kind of viewer who always points out flaws in films, then this film is not for you. “The Swimming Pool” has lots of imperfections and was not made to be immaculate, but embodies a certain spirit of the 60s and is a pleasant film. The picky will say the scenery is not good, the script is uninspired, and the story is “common”, but the cast saves the day.

    Furthermore, this is the typical case of a cast disguising all the rest. Maurice Ronet, Romy Schneider, and mainly, Alain Delon are left on their own and perform well. For a pleasing experience, some abstraction is needed as some lines skim the ridiculous, and “Swimming Pool” is poorly directed. Jacques Deray seems to have a fetish with “zoom ins” and “zoom outs”, which ends to be a little annoying after awhile.

    9. The Last Adventure (1967)


    Robert Enrico isn’t credited as an important filmmaker in France, but “The Last Adventure” is a piece worth watching. While lots of dull and desultory films were made in the nouvelle vague, Enrico captured a quite honest camaraderie spirit felt at the time with an emblematic adventure of Manu, Roland, and Laetitia. Delon, Lino Ventura and Joanna Shimkus are raiders of the storm of a timeless story, where many human beings have something to lose. By the way, the keyword here is humanity.

    After its release, the film achieved some popularity, but critics weren’t properly appreciative of Enrico’s work. Thus, the film is now a lost gem and relevant only to Alain Delon aficionados.

    Reminiscent of some Rivette flicks, “The Last Adventure” has a bittersweet atmosphere of joy and grief, but friendship is the main theme. The film also has one of the most iconic film sequences of the 60’s French cinema combined with a terrific score by François de Roubaix.

    8. The Sicilian Clan (1969)


    Charisma and charm in gangster films are like popcorn at the movies: it’s never too much. “The Sicilian Clan” unites Henri Verneuil at his top form with one of the best (if not the best) cinema score composers of all time, Ennio Morricone, and a magnificent cast: Lino Ventura as a French cop; Jean Gabin as a gangster leader; and, of course, Delon as an untimely and irascible robber. More than 40 years after its release, “The Sicilian Clan” is more of a cult film than a classic.

    The film is like a pop song: catchy, pleasurable to hear, and entertaining. Delon was the shining star, delivering a cool and seductive performance, looking quite like Robert Redford in “The Sting” four years later. “The Sicilian Clan” is a jewel for heist story lovers, and moreover, the film’s cover says “behind every gun is The Sicilian Clan.” Just watch it!

    7. Mr. Klein (1976)


    Delon was present in an unusual number of good films that were quickly forgotten and lost. “Mr. Klein” is an exceptional film and is the main example of that phenomenon.

    The film can be described as a dark Hitchcockian mystery mixed with Kafka’s identity problems, but it remains unique on its own merits, since it isn’t clearly a detective movie and there’s much to look around the plot and characters. Delon performs two roles and does an exquisite job as Mr. Robert Klein, along with the beautiful Jeanne Moreau.

    “Mr. Klein” has also the particularity of being maybe the last truly good film with Delon in it. He was also in “Nouvelle Vague”, but the film doesn’t reach the same level as this picture does, and the rest was very degrading to Delon’s career. Crime films were very popular in France in the 70s, and that certainly helped to eclipse this film. However, this is one of the best films including Delon, so don’t be fooled by its lack of exposition.

    6. The Leopard (1963)


    Of course, “The Leopard” is one of best films of all time in its own genre (along with “Barry Lyndon”) and could be ranked higher, but this is an Alain Delon list and, even though he performed quite well, the French is completely obfuscated by Burt Lancaster, who is beyond flawless. Marlon Brando was also considered for the role.

    Luchino Visconti does a terrific job directing this film and turning its three hours into a sumptuous and pleasurable experience, just like Stanley Kubrick did 12 years later with “Barry Lyndon”, or Nuri Bilge Ceylan with “Winter Sleep”. You simply don’t feel the time passing.

    This is Martin Scorsese’s and Giuseppe Tornatore’s favorite film and a production with lots of stories to tell. The first reason is because Visconti wasn’t impressed with Lancaster, but was under obligation to cast him as he needed American funding, and the second reason is because the Italian director was such a fan of Delon that he provided everything he wanted on the set. Lancaster had to wait even to dress.

    5. Eclipse (1962)


    “Eclipse” is like an abstract painting in the way every line, color, and element can mean different things to different people. The last black-and-white film by Michelangelo Antonioni is a superb masterpiece, but was relatively unnoticed at the time, as Fellini, Rossellini, and Godard were catching all the attention.

    The exception was Japan, where the film was an absolute success. Today the film has the classic label on it, but isn’t as quoted as others from the 60s. In fact, it is more like an artifact for true Italian cinema enthusiasts.

    Highly inspirational for Scorsese, “Eclipse” was a film where, before it was cool, Antonioni already let the audiences make their own conclusions. The film was also a way to understand the lack of artistic sensibility of American cinema at the time, as the last seven minutes of the film were eliminated in American theaters because there was no dialogue.

    That final sequence remains one of the most iconic in Antonioni’s filmography. Regarding Delon, we could say this was a performance of a lifetime, but in his case it was just an excellent job, because he’d done better before and after 1962.

    4. Purple Noon (1960)


    “Purple Noon” was based on the same group of stories as “The Talented Mr. Ripley” by Patricia Highsmith, but both films are incomparably different and I don’t even dare to compare Delon and Matt Damon as Tom Ripley.

    Credited as one of his first performances, “Purple Noon” is like a Hitchcock film in French colors, and maybe the first flick where Delon shined on large scale. His performance was so good that even Highsmith, who was very disappointed with the finale, was astonished by the French actor.

    The most noticeable nuance between this film and the novel and the remake was its approach toward morality. René Clément gives it a very indecent turn and allows the characters to be dark and amoral.

    In the middle of this, we are totally captured by Delon, who leads the action with a dangerous but enthralling and seductive role. Unfortunately, this performance was overshadowed by Rocco from “Rocco and his Brothers”, filmed in the same year.

    3. The Red Circle (1970)


    “The Red Circle” is a heist film directed by Jean-Pierre Melville, and that by itself is symptomatic about its quality. The film follows the path of Corey (Delon), a man who is released from prison, who rushes to prepare a complex robbery with a former detective and a famous runaway. Sustained by a great cast and a clever script, “The Red Circle” is a masterpiece where the awesome scenes flow discretely, one after another, in a flurry of style.

    Delon was losing some of his credit and popularity in this phase and “The Red Circle” was like an elixir for him, as he was starting to be forsaken by the important names of the industry. His response was epic, also benefiting from his partners Yves Montand and Gian Maria Volontè, who were at the peak of their form. In fact, Delon was always very solid with Melville directing him, showing he was always more proficient with top-class filmmakers.

    Side note: The 25 minutes heist scene with no words spoken is simply unbelievable.

    2. Rocco and His Brothers (1960)


    This is a remarkable achievement by Luchino Visconti and a film that stays with the viewer for a long time. The Italian director draws an incisive portrait of family – very distant from an Ozu exercise or a Spielberg movie – using a contaminated environment to emphasize Rocco, a pure and altruistic family character. Delon perfectly embodies the innocence of Rocco, using his beautiful face to lend an angelic identity to the performance, connecting physical and psychological beauty.

    The success of “Rocco and his Brothers” is justified by its bipolar vision of society, ethical violence, and an inexplicable intimacy. It’s like we knew all those characters already! Superbly filmed by Giuseppe Rotunno and with an interesting Nino Rota score, this film was a big influence for Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola. The film was highly censured and had lots of scenes cut, and we can only imagine how greater the film would be if made today.

    1. Le Samouraï (1967)


    “Le Samouraï” is an antihero masterpiece with features of a classic spread throughout. The loner Jef Costello, interpreted by Delon, is very charismatic and executes every movement with a cold and calculated precision that provides a cool vibe. Though the film isn’t very dense in its dialogue, all of his moves are an enigmatic way of communication that the audience must decipher using some kind of intuitive connotation.

    Melville was an intelligent filmmaker and he knew films were more about images than dialogue (lots of American directors aren’t aware of that even today), so he made a comics-peruse shaped film.

    The way Delon puts on his hat is a landmark, and this was the greatest performance we’ve seen from the Frenchman. Communicating with few words is a very hard task, and Delon did it easily using his imposing figure and body language to express the character’s mannerisms. “Le Samouraï” built a huge legacy until today, being one of the most influential pieces of the best directors of the upcoming years, and one of the films that forever immortalized Delon’s career.

    by  Pedro Bento

    Taste of Cinema

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