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Le Doulos - Criterion Collection (Version française) [Import]

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Product Details

  • Actors: Jean-Paul Belmondo, Serge Reggiani, Jean Desailly, René Lefèvre, Marcel Cuvelier
  • Directors: Jean-Pierre Melville
  • Writers: Jean-Pierre Melville, Pierre Lesou
  • Producers: Carlo Ponti, Georges de Beauregard
  • Format: Anamorphic, Black & White, Digital Sound, Dolby, Mono, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen, Import
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: The Criterion Collection
  • Release Date: Oct. 7 2008
  • Run Time: 108 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • ASIN: B001CW7ZSA
  •  Would you like to update product info, give feedback on images, or tell us about a lower price?

Product Description

Region 1 NTSC DVD

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa01da1f8) out of 5 stars 15 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9fe92918) out of 5 stars A powerful combination of style and substance go a long way in this very `cool' noir... May 5 2009
By Andrew Ellington - Published on
Format: DVD
Cool, collected and oh so sheik, `Le Doulos' reminds me a lot of Melville's later triumph `Le Samourai'. Both films are just dripping with attitude and suave entitlement and both films delve into the gritty life of a criminal. This time around, the trench coats and jazz music follow a group of thieves as they deal with a supposed informant. With enough twists and turns to keep you guessing till the very end, `Le Doulos' does everything it needs to in order to hook you and keep you hooked.

In `Le Doulos', Jean-Pierre Melville introduces us to Silien, a shady character of sorts who may or may not be a police informant ratting out his friend, the recently released Maurice Faugel. As Maurice finds his latest job botched at the hands of the police he begins to wonder just who his real friends are, and when he finds himself behind bars it seems all too obvious who is behind it all; but is it really all that simple?


I raved `Le Samourai' and I will continue to do so. It is one of the greatest film noirs I've ever seen, and it continues to impress me every time I sit through it. `Le Doulos' is right up there for me; a sublime example of a director and a group of actors taking a mood and carrying it through to completion. Everything about this film is perfectly designed to embellish the mood Melville was attempting to convey. This film is dripping with style, yet it doesn't rest easy on that said style; it actually backs it up with substance. The plot is thick and intricate and the acting is superb. Jean-Paul Belmondo is stellar as Silien, possessing the same coolness that Alain Delon strutted around with in `Le Samourai'. He plays to his characters ambiguity very well, so well that his loyalty is always a question mark, which is essential to the films final reveal. Serge Reggiani is also very good here as Maurice, capturing his characters confusion as he begins doubting all he's grown accustomed to. Personally, I was floored with Monique Hennessy's small turn as Therese. She was astonishing and completely engrossing in just a few short scenes.

Those eyes melt me.

Undoubtedly the star of the show is director Jean-Pierre Melville who just dominates each frame with his personal style and technique. I remember very vividly the opening frames of `Le Samourai' and I think I even raved that opening sequence in my personal review (the lonely birdcage). Similarly, Melville uses a simple image (in this case, a man walking through dark alleys) to convey the films intended mood; dark and mysterious. That initial image stays with the viewer throughout the film and even past its conclusion (which is a BRILLIANT piece of work) and remains one of the most important and telling scenes in the film. A great film needs to have that fluidity, and it is established by the director understanding the message he is trying to convey and knowing how to create it in its entirety.

Jean-Pierre Melville is that kind of a director.

So, as you can tell, I truly loved this movie and I highly recommend it. The film noir is a tricky genre, because if not done right it can come off hokey or even campy. This is far from either of those two definitions. `Le Doulos' is sleek, cunning, mysterious and highly entertaining; everything you could ask for from a noir and much, much more.
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa1ea8c30) out of 5 stars A Theft and Revenge Story Oct. 7 2008
By Doug Anderson - Published on
Format: DVD
1949 La Silence de la Mer
1950 Les Enfants Terribles (Criterion) *****
1953 Quand tu liras cetta lettre
1956 Bob le Flambeur (Criterion) *****
1959 Deux Hommes dans Manhattan
1961 Leon Morin
1962 Le Doulos (Criterion) ***
1963 Aime de Ferchaux
1966 Le Deuxieme Souffle (Criterion) *****
1967 Le Samourai (Criterion) *****
1969 Army of Shadows (Criterion) *****
1970 Le Cercle Rouge (Criterion) *****
1972 Un Flic ****

Jean-Pierre Melville has made some noir masterpieces. I would not call this a masterpiece (I've rated the Melville films that I have seen above, the ones without stars are ones I haven't yet seen) but Melville and film noir fans will find enough here (Melville's stoic tough guys in trenchcoats and hats, the self-conscious homages to the American cinema of the 1930's, and the cold as nails world view accented by a cool jazz score) to keep them glued to the screen for 1 hr and 49 minutes.

The plot: Maurice Faugel (Serge Reggiani) is a thief whose fresh out of jail. One of the old gang, Gilbert Varnove, is helping Maurice out until he gets back on his feet, but Maurice doesn't know who he can trust anymore. He suspects that someone set him up years ago, and he suspects that that someone might just be Gilbert Varnove. Additionally, for some inexplicable reason, Maurice has befriended a new kid named Mr. Silien (a fresh faced Jean-Paul Belmondo). Though it is never explained where or how they met the two seem to have some unspoken bond that exists only in noirs and westerns between old outlaws and new. Since everyone knows that Silien has "friends" on both sides of the law, the old gang doesn't really trust the new guy and Maurice agrees to keep Silien out of the loop on the upcoming heist.

When this latest job also goes bad and another of his friends ends up dead as a result, Maurice is hellbent on exacting revenge. But who finked? The evidence all seems to point to Silien but can Maurice be certain?

To further complicate matters Maurice has a girlfriend named Therese and Silien has an old flame named Fabienne who is now attached to Cotton Club owner Nutthechio (Michel Piccoli). Nutthechio's resume of underworld projects includes a major heist of the Avenue Mozart jewels. The fence for this heist was none other than Gilbert Varnove.

The cops know all of these career criminals by name and they know whose in which gang so when Gilbert Varnove ends up dead one night the cops know exactly who to talk to. Or so they think. They know Maurice had a motive, but so did Nutthechio. So which one did it? The cops decide that the evidence points to Maurice, but can they be certain they've got the right guy? While in custody Maurice plots his revenge but is he plotting to get the right guy?

Its a tightly knit community but no one trusts anyone and the truth remains hidden from view (until the very end).

Melville is known for his intricately shot heist scenes. The disappointment here is that the major heist happens offscreen and we only get to see a minor break-in. But other Melville pleasures are scattered troughout including several indoor shots of cramped hideouts and prison cells and several outdoor shots of both the seedy and the seemly side of Paris at night seen mainly from the windows of large American automobiles. Interestingly, Melville does not attempt to capture the Paris that Chabrol so memorably captured in Les Bonnes Femmes or that Malle captured in Elevator to the Gallows, rather he shoots the city as if it were just another backdrop for yet another New York noir. And since Melville loved New York (and shot two of his films there) and classic American film noir theres nothing too surprising about that.

The crux of the plot, as always with Melville, involves underworld relationships and betrayals. The criminals may conspire together in order to pull off jobs but they also each exist alone in their own universe of one and this is really the most compelling thing about Melville's films, the way men read and misread each other's private codes. While watching a Melville film one knows that these are men of few words but one also recognizes that if they spoke up a little more they could maybe avoid some of the inevitable confusions that arise when communication is limited to a shrug or a nod.

The real surprise here is the way Silien handles Therese when he needs to get information from her.

The other surprise is the elegant locale of the ending.

But the best sequence is not the interrogation sequence which is forgettable but the intricately manufactured crime scene.

Ok, enough said about the plot.

Should you see it? If you love Melville already, then by all means yes. But if you are new to Melville I would start with Le Samourai, Army of Shadows, Le Cercle Rouge, and Un Flic. And then go back and see the earlier films such as Bob le Flambeur and Le Doulos. Les Enfants Terribles is also great but just be informed that its not a noir but the story of two incestuous and art-obsessed teens.

I am very much hoping Criterion continues to fill out its Melville catalog. Hopefully, Le Silence de la Mer is next on the list.

DVD extras: Insightful interviews with Tavernier & Schlondorff who discuss Melville the man (irascible, bullying), his lifestyle (he was an insomniac who lived above his own private film studio), his taste in film (William Wyler, Robert Wise), films he quoted or borrowed from in Le Doulos (Crime Wave, Odds Against Tomorrow), his incompetence with actresses and female characters (according to Belmondo who argued with him over his choices for the female leads), his love of Manhattan and wish to make Paris look like Manhattan, the artificialty of his film noir universes, the claim made by Rivette and others that Melville's attempts to find tragedy in the life of French criminals ignores the fact that the French underworld collaborated with the French Gestapo.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa002ea20) out of 5 stars Perfect Melville Feb. 5 2010
By Ron Rood - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is probably one of the lesser known (or watched) pieces from perfectionist film maker Jean-Pierre Melville, who is perhaps most known as the creator of Le Samurai and Un Flic, both starring Alain Delon. Le Doulos has Jean-Paul Belmondo, who presumably was one of the most famous French actors at the time. It should be added, however, that the others are no less impressing. The story line tends to be a bit complex every now and then, not the least because of the many characters figuring in it and their subtle and many-faced interrelations. So I hasten to say that this should be interpreted as a compliment rather than as a point of criticism. Le Doulos is a fascinating and absorbing movie experience from the first moment on. Definitely worth watching at least twice. As we expect from Criterion, the movie is delivered in excellent quality including a number of interesting extras such as archival interviews with the director and main star.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0785888) out of 5 stars Betrayal and double crosses, style and irony, with some cool-looking trench coats Oct. 25 2008
By C. O. DeRiemer - Published on
Format: DVD
To dramatize gangsters because of some fictitious "code" romanticize them by dressing them in trench coats with the collars pulled up and Borsalinos on their not just naive, it's downright silly. One wonders what Melville, with Cagney and Raft in his system, would have done with some modern thugs like Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano, Peter "Rabbit" Calabrese or Jake "Greasy Thumb" Guzik. These hefty slobs would look ludicrous in fedoras, and their "code" included back shooting each other.

Melville's fascination with idealized and rigidly unreachable gangsters comes across almost as weird as Hitchcock's fascination with blond ice queens who can be humiliated. We're talking fetish, and if Melville and Hitchcock weren't such masterful moviemakers they'd probably be discussed in psychology textbooks and not in articles by film historians. But Melville and Hitchcock are masterful directors, and even their failures are interesting. Melville's Le Doulos is by no means a failure. It's a story of betrayal and double crosses and then more double crosses, some real, and some by tough men who make wrong assumptions. There's a sizable body count among those who wear trench coats and Borsalinos. The movie has that gritty, depressing, shadowed look of great noirs. If you're into masterful craftsmanship, Le Doulos is hard to beat.

Le Doulos tells us about Maurice Faugel (Serge Reggiani), a tired gangster just out of prison who knows someone informed on him. He kills the man, but did he get the right man? He plans a burglary, using his girl to check the place out and a friend, Silien (Jean-Paul Belmondo), to loan him the safe-cracking equipment. Bad luck again; the cops show up, one gets killed and Faugel gets a bullet in his shoulder. This time we think we know who the stoolie is. We'd be foolish to place a bet on it. Or would we? Now the story becomes as much about Silien as Faugel. Belmondo's Silien may be an oily charmer, but Belmondo gives him dangerous shock value as well as star charisma. His questioning of Therese, Faugel's girl friend, is startling

I don't buy the theory that a storyline that appears confusing is probably a great director's way of either playing with the audience or having an approach that is just too subtle for most of us to grasp. My theory is that, more often than not, the director simply lost control of the material, or ran out of production and editing time, or possibly just got a little bored with the project. I have no idea which was the reason with Le Doulos, but the storyline, already intricate with double crosses, leaves a lot for last minute tidying up. Silien's recapitulation of events, shown in flashback, doesn't help much. I started to think I must be in an English drawing room listening to Hercule Poirot explain how it all happened. Except...did I miss something at the end? No, but you sure better have an excellent memory for characters seen once, almost instantly. When you see finally what the last twist is, it seemed to me to be a case of heavy-handed theatrical irony.

The movie is a great technical experience to watch. It's a fine example of Melville's technical mastery of his craft and his fascination with film gangsters and the self-imagined world he places them in. The story? For me, not all that involving; it's the storytelling that's the pay off.

Melville's reputation, in my view, rests firmly on Army of Shadows - Criterion Collection, Bob le Flambeur - Criterion Collection and, to a lesser extent, Le Cercle Rouge (The Red Circle) - Criterion Collection. The more he veered into gangster style at the expense of the story, the more he veered into the world of film dilettantes and of professors of film studies. You know, the kind who love long tracking shots. Melville deserves better than what some of his professional enthusiasts lavish on him.

The Criterion issue of Le Doulos has a fine black and white film transfer as well as several extras.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9ffa893c) out of 5 stars The best French Noir since Rififi! June 2 2009
By Hiram Gòmez Pardo Venezuela - Published on
Format: DVD
"Le doulos" is one of the most emblematic exponents of the Noir film in the early sixties. The main difference between this approach and the rest, resides in the poignant anecdote. A confident -Sailier- works as intermediary between the cops and the gangsters in the underworld of Paris, truly believes in the power of the friendship, when Maurice a thief recently released from prison, decides to recover his four years in jail and to dispatch the master brain of an audacious heist in Av. Mozart.

But Maurice has planned since he was in prison a cold blood murder for this confident, because he is truly persuaded he was jailed due this confident. So, the fate has been sealed and when he realizes his fatal mistake, it will be too late to intend to change his initial will.

Betrayal, double crosses, honesty and surreptitious ambitions will be nestled under all those dark personages.

Jean Pierre Melville proved why he was a master director and mo other French director was capable to reach the enviable status he achieved.

A master film and one of my everlasting cult movies from the sixties. A true masterwork all the way through.