Friday 12 September 2014

The Sicilian Clan [1969]

The Sicilian Clan was perhaps the best film that Melville never made on account it’s striking stylistic resemblances with his oeuvre. The heist film borrowed tropes from classic noirs, and then imbued quintessential Melville elements in the form of existential tone, minimalist and understated style, constant one-upmanship between dour-faced men on either side of the law, wry dose of irony, and the presence of the two French stalwarts Lino Ventura and Alain Delon who were regulars in his films; that Jean Gabin was also there in it made added icing to the cake. Impetuous-natured career criminal Roger Sartet (Delon) is helped in making a brilliantly planned escape from a police van by the suave and weary mafiosi patriarch Vittorio Manalese (Gabin), in order to aid the latter in staging a million-dollar jewelry heist – the mythical ‘one last job’ before he retires to his birth-village in Sicily. Commissaire Le Goff (Ventura), an irritable cop trying in vain to quit smoking, is hot on Sartet’s heels. Sensing the enormous complications involved, Manalese takes the help of his old pal (Amedeo Nazzari) and goes about meticulously planning a spectacular robbery; Sartet, meanwhile, unable to keep a check on his libido, is allowed to be seduced by the unsatisfied wife (Irina Demick) of one of Vittorio’s sons, which adds a crucial dimension to the twisting plot. That their outrageous plan of hijacking a passenger plan is ultimately undone by a seemingly irrelevant coincidence, made this a darkly humorous and fatalistic elucidation of Murphy’s Law. Despite the elaborate storyline that bordered on implausibility, character developments and minor interludes made it memorable, as did the palpable tension among the 3 men. Ennio Morricone’s idiosyncratic score underscored the tale’s irony.

Director: Henri Verneuil
Genre: Crime Thriller/Gangster Film/Heist Film
Language: French
Country: France

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