Welcome to Project 77, a series in which we will examine some of our favorite films by breaking them down and analyzing what we see every 77 seconds on screen.
First up, Jean-Pierre Melville’s 1967 French Noir Masterpiece, Le Samourai.
Le Samourai: 00:10:16
Here we are, ten minutes into the film and we’ve got our first lines of dialogue. Like everything to this point, it’s all part of Costello’s preparation for the crime he will commit.
Traveling with the stolen car across town Costello meets with his lover, Jane Lagrange, to construct a piece of his alibi. The two iron out the times which he is supposed to have been with her at her apartment while her boyfriend is away.
I can’t help but think of how many people are involved in Costello’s world and how they all keep his secret safe. Do these people know about each other?
It makes me wonder what his life is like when he isn’t on a job? How does he nurture these relationships or are they just co-workers?
If you’re wondering about the easy chemistry between these two, it’s because the part of Jane Lagrange is played by Nathalie Delon…Mrs. Alain Delon.
Three years earlier the two married, despite reports that on their first meeting Alain got hammered and vomited on Nathalie. The couple would maintain a rocky relationship for five years, till they divorced in 1969, but would continue to live together for another year.
In a strange case of life imitating art, the Delons became involved in political scandal known as the Markovic Affair at the end of the 60’s that found the couple being questioned by police in connection with the murder of Alain Delon’s bodyguard, Stevan Markovic, whose body was found wrapped in a mattress in the woods.
A sordid tale of high-society parties and the emergence of scandalous photos ensued that stretched so far into French culture it dragged then President George Pompidou and his wife through the wringer.
At the heart of the investigation in it’s early stages was Alain Delon, who allegedly ran with some gangsters – a number of which were rumored to have met questionable ends. One of these gangster, and apparently the closest to Delon, Francois Marcantoni, was initially charged with Markovic’s murder after a note surfaced that Markovic had written to his brother claiming that if he were killed it was was Delon and his gangster friend Marcantoni’s fault.
The charges Marcantoni were dropped after further questioning, and the murder of Stevan Markovic went unsolved…