Directed by Jean-Pierre Melville
US release date: August 26, 2015

ARMY OF SHADOWS (original title: L’Armée des ombres)

Written and directed by Jean-Pierre Melville

Cast: Lino Ventura, Simone Signoret, Paul Meurisse, Jean-Pierre Cassel

First Release: September 12, 1969 (France)  

Language: French with English subtitles

Runtime: 145 mins


L’armée des ombres (1969) France, The Resistance: an escape from the Gestapo, so sudden and hairsbreadth as to leave the toughest of tough guys gasping with the icy sweat of terror and relief; two brothers remain unaware, to the end, of each other’s clandestine activities; patriots who, in relentless pursuit of traitors, must steel themselves to the most brutal of face-to-face violence.

Lino Ventura (Elevator to the Gallows, Classe Tous Risques, etc.), aided by compatriots including maîtresse of disguise Simone Signoret, goes underground in face of the German Occupation — but the price of heroism can be truly horrific.

Precursor of the New Wave and legend of the French gangster film, Jean-Pierre Melville realized the dream of a quarter-century when he adapted “the book of the Resistance,” written by Joseph Kessel (Belle de Jour) in the white heat of immediacy. Melville turned the detached, unblinking gaze of his Noir classics on these memories of his youth — he himself served for years in the Resistance — adding a jarring finale of his own, so stoically uncompromising as to reduce Kessel himself to sobs on his first viewing. But Army of Shadows wasn’t released here until 2006 — when it dominated the year’s Ten Best lists (topping the Premiere and New York Times lists) and copped the New York Film Critics Circle’s award for Best Foreign Film of the year — 37 years after it was completed. Excerpt from Film Forum

US Distributor: Rialto Pictures

Opens in New York on August 26 at Film Forum

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