Tag Archives: Jean-Louis Trintignant

The Outside Man (1973)

outside man 2

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 7 out of 10

4-Word Review: Hit man is marked.

Lucien (Jean-Louise Trintignant) is a French hit man hired by an American family to assassinate a mob boss (Ted de Corsia) who’s living in Los Angeles. He’s able to pull off the job relatively easily, but then after it’s over he finds that he’s been targeted by another hit man (Roy Scheider) who is relentless and chases Lucien all over the city. Nancy (Ann-Margret) is the stripper who comes to Lucien’s aid by getting her boyfriend to create a passport for him so he can return to France, but just as he is about to board the plane he decides instead to stay in the states and turn-the-tables on the man who’s chasing him while finding who is behind the double-cross.

The film, which was done by a French production company, but filmed on-location in the states, is a lot of fun. The many offbeat touches and various stabs at dry humor keep it interesting and original while still remaining suspenseful and exciting. Some of the best moments include a hitchhiker (Edward Greenberg) who tries to convert Lucien to ‘Jesus’ as well the funeral, which eventually turns into a wild shootout amongst the various mob factions and has a corpse embalmed in a sitting position with a cigar in hand.

I also liked the way director Jacques Deray captures Los Angeles. Usually when a film is done in the City of Angels we always get shown shots of the Hollywood Walk of Fame, movie star homes, the beachfront and of course the great Hollywood sign, but here we see none of that. Instead the film captures the city’s less glamorous side including the rundown neighborhoods and even a shootout that takes place in abandoned buildings from an amusement park, which all helps to give the movie a unique vision as well as allowing the viewer to appreciate a side to the city that they may have not known even existed.

Trintignant is terrific and his perpetual look of confusion as he gets faced with one unexpected surprise after another is memorable and helps carry the film. Ann-Margret is solid as the streetwise, but kindly stripper and Scheider is quite good as the steely killer. Georgia Engel, who later became famous for playing Georgette on the ‘Mary Tyler Moore Show’ is funny as a spacy housewife who comes into contact with Lucien as he is trying to run from his killer. I especially liked the way that when a gun is pointed in her face she doesn’t scream or panic, but instead responds with silence and a deer-in-headlights look. This is also a great chance to see a young Jackie Earle Haley in his film debut as her precocious 10-year-old son.

The film’s only real downfall is its ending, which is too downbeat and ambiguous. It’s almost like they spent so much time coming up with creative concepts for the rest of it that by the time they came to the end they just plain rang out of ideas, which is a disappointment, but as a whole it’s still a gem.

My Rating: 7 out of 10

Released: January 18, 1973

Runtime: 1Hour 44Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Jacques Deray

Studio: United Artists

Available: DVD (MGM Limited Edition Collection), Amazon Instant Video

And Hope to Die (1972)

and hope to die

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 7 out of 10

4-Word Review: Kidnapping a dead girl.

Tony (Jean-Louis Trintignant) is on the run from a gypsy group out for revenge and as he is being chased by them he encounters another group of criminals headed by Charley (Robert Ryan) who after some conflict take him into their fold and gives him the nickname of Froggy. Their plan is to kidnap a teen girl who is set to be the star witness at a trial of a major head of a criminal organization. Unfortunately she commits suicide before they can get to her, so they pretend that she is still alive and go through the motions of the kidnapping so as to be able to collect the payout by the organization that hired them.

This is the second of director Rene Clement’s trilogy dealing with the theme of kidnapping. The first was The Deadly Trap and the third being Scar Tissue. Of the three this one is the best mainly because of its many offbeat touches. The wry sense of humor, which is deftly interwoven into an already intricate plot, is terrific and helps make the entire thing engaging from beginning to end. My favorite parts include a contest that Froggy plays with Charley where he can stand three cigarettes on end straight into the air, which he can do with ease while Charley can’t despite his repeated efforts. The eulogy that Charley gives during a makeshift burial of one of their cohorts is priceless and the action isn’t bad either including an exciting sequence in which the group walks across a thin ladder hundreds of feet in the air that connects one skyscraper to another.

The characterizations are well done and played to the hilt. Trintignant plays another one of his outsider-looking-in roles and the way he manages to mesh himself into the group that is initially reluctant to have him is quite amusing. Aldo Ray is a scene stealer playing the gang’s resident bonehead and Tisa Farrow, who is Mia’s younger sister and looks almost like she could be her twin, is appealing in her role as a volatile young lady who knows how to use a gun and not afraid to shoot it whenever she gets the least bit riled.

The actual kidnapping, which is based on the novel ‘Black Friday’ by David Goodis, doesn’t occur until the final thirty minutes with the first hour dealing exclusively with Froggy’s assimilation into the group, which may sound boring, but really isn’t. In fact there is very little about this movie that I didn’t like and my only complaint would be the lackluster ending that doesn’t offer much of a payoff. Otherwise I feel this is a great example of how to mix humor with action, but still managing to keep things believable, fresh and inventive.

My Rating: 7 out of 10

Released: September 15, 1972

Runtime: 1Hour 39Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Rene Clement

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Available: DVD (Region 2)

The Intruder (1977)

Capture 52

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 4 out of 10

4-Word Review: Terror on the road.

Based on a story by Dean R. Koontz and filmed in France under the title Les Passagers the plot centers on Alex (Jean-Louis Trintignant) who picks up his 11-year-old stepson Marc (Richard Constantini) from school and sets off to drive him across France and into Italy where they are to meet his mother Nicole (Mireille Darc). Along the way they become menaced by a strange man (Bernard Fresson) driving a black van that begins following them. At first Alex thinks nothing of it, but when the van tries driving them off the road they go to the police who prove to be unhelpful, which forces Alex to take things into his own hands in order to save both himself and the boy.

The film starts off well with definite hints to Steven Spielberg’s classic Duel. I enjoyed how initially everything is from Alex’s and Marc’s point-of-view where we do not know the identity of the driver in the black van, which is only seen through the perspective of their rear window that gives the vehicle a creepy presence. The banter between the boy and step father is engaging and the fact that the kid is smart and shows a keen awareness of things and not just there to be cute is great. I also liked the bawdy tune they sing together and the shot of the boy driving the car while the father leans out the passenger side window.

There is an exciting moment where the van tries pushing their car off the highway while they’re on a winding mountaintop road that is well photographed and realistic. The two are subsequently forced to ride the rest of the way in a tattered vehicle that has no windshield and looks almost as beat-up as the automobile in Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

I did not like however that fifteen minutes into the movie we are shown the face of the other driver, which takes away from the intriguing mystery angle that is what made Duel so interesting. The bad guy isn’t frightening and comes off as clumsy and careless, which makes him less threatening. The fact that he does not carry any type of weapon and must resort to grabbing a nearby fire ax in order to attack Trintignant’s character when the two confront each other didn’t make much sense.

Spoiler Alert!

The film’s biggest transgression though is that its twist ending isn’t surprising at all as the mystery man turns out to be the wife’s psycho ex-boyfriend, which is something I had guessed early on and most other viewers probably will too. It also leaves open a tremendous amount of loopholes like why Alex wouldn’t have been made aware of this boyfriend earlier as I’m sure he would’ve been stalking them long before she got remarried and why the boy wouldn’t have guessed that the stranger chasing them was this man as well as most likely he would’ve known about him too. The police investigation, which gets worked in as a sort of side story proves pointless to the plot and the fact that they end up being quite incompetent makes them seem similar to the ‘comic relief’ cops from Last House on the Left, which hurts the tension.

End of Spoiler Alert!

This film has managed to acquire a small cult following and it has good set-up, but it would’ve worked better had it been done solely from the point-of-view of the father and stepson and only revealed the face and identity of the bad guy at the very end.

My Rating: 4 out of 10

Alternate Title: Les Passagers

Released: March 9, 1977

Runtime: 1Hour 36Minutes

Not Rated

Director: Serge Leroy

Studio: Warner Brothers

Available: None at this time.