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Borsalino (1970)

My Alain Delon season continued with the only film in which  he is paired with the other French  box office star of the sixties and seventies Jean Paul Belmondo.

They play two up and coming gangsters in 1930s Marseilles. Even though they generate a certain chemistry on screen, off screen there were problems leading Belmondo to sue Delon, who was the producer, over his billing.

As a film it focussed rather too much on the stars and is episodic.

Of the two Belmondo is the better actor.

His early career as a boxer left him with a busted nose.

It’s an oddity of the French cinema that many of its leading male stars – like Belmondo and Gerard Depardieu – are not conventionally good looking.

Alain Delon certainly is and he is often shot in the trademark Borsalino trilby immaculately dresses in a white suit or black tie.

The pair moved up the echelons of Marseilles crime eliminating the two head honchos on the way.

Various molls also appear but the female lead Lola (Catherine Rouvel) is coveted by both.

Although a homage to Hollywood, whose crime thrillers were much admired by the new wave directors, it reminded me more of The Sting for its glamorisation of crime and a ménage a trois  (Robert Redford, Paul Newman and Katherine Ross).

Ironically the film was made when Delon was investigated by the police over a scandal arising from the murder of his bodyguard Stefan Markovic

He was acquitted of any wrongdoing  but the scandal implicated Georges Pompidou who was running for President.  Also the BBC had to interrupt the funeral scene for the breaking news of Princess Diana’s car accident and death.

Nonetheless an agreeable way to spend a couple of hours on a rained-off Sunday.

About Neil Rosen

Neil went to the City of London School and Manchester University graduating with a 1st in economics. After a brief stint in accountancy, Neil emigrated to a kibbutz In Israel. His articles on the burgeoning Israeli film industry earned comparisons to Truffaut and Godard in Cahiers du Cinema. Now one of the world's leading film critics and moderators at film Festivals Neil has written definitively in his book Kosher Nostra on Jewish post war actors. Neil lives with his family in North London. More Posts