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: 00:17:58
For a period of time I worked in the world of Apartment Rentals in Manhattan. I swear I saw every form of buzzer-box in the city from the Bronx to Battery Park. There was a real artistry getting past them to access a building. See, there were many occasions when we only had the keys to the actual unit, not the building, and we needed to get some day-tripper who was there from Cleveland to find an apartment before they start their new job into the building so they can see the fifth apartment that looks pretty much like all the rest but gets slightly more light. So this put us in a position where we would have to schmooze one of the neighbors into letting us into the building before this idiot stumbled upon a posting for another apartment and ran off to meet one of the thousand other hacks promising to show them their dream place that day.
One of the guys I worked with was a master at popping locks. It was a true superpower, but he would only use it for greed, which I guess is better than evil. That guy was slick. I have no idea how he would do it, but all he needed was a second and then bingo, he was in.
All those years of buzzing doors and climbing the narrow stairs of walk-ups makes me appreciate fine lobbies and unfamiliar guests.
Think about it, do you know all your neighbors? Do you know all your co-workers? Classmates? Cousins? What about the people at the gas station? Folks you see at the laundromat? How many familiar strangers are in your life, and how many could you identify?
How many bad witnesses do you think there has been in the history of law enforcement? You get that overzealous citizen looking to do their part that is adamant they saw something, and now their life has a touch of excitement in it.
Jef Costello functions on the assumption that most people are too self involved to notice the fine details of their surroundings. Right now he is waiting for the boyfriend/husband of his mistress to come home so he can plant a faint image in his head of a man that looks close enough to him passing by in the lobby. Costello’s plan might be a little busted, but it isn’t broken yet.