LÉON MORIN, PRIEST
1961, Rialto Pictures, 117 min, France/Italy, Dir: Jean-Pierre Melville

In a French Alps village during WWII, widowed mother Barny (Emmanuelle Riva) walks into a confessional, but not as a believer; a communist and atheist, she is more concerned about the welfare of her daughter during the occupation. The priest she speaks to, Léon Morin (Jean-Paul Belmondo, wonderfully cast against type), proves exceptionally insightful, and as they begin to have philosophical conversations outside of church, she feels a growing attraction to the young man. Beautifully shot by cinematographer Henri Decaë, this is among the most thoughtful examinations of faith and its challenges ever made.


LE DOULOS
THE FINGERMAN
1962, Rialto Pictures, 108 min, France/Italy, Dir: Jean-Pierre Melville

Director Jean-Pierre Melville met actor Jean-Paul Belmondo during Melville's brief cameo in Godard’s BREATHLESS - here, he gives Belmondo one of his best roles, that of a two-faced informer caught between the police and his “old pal,” played by doom-faced Serge Reggiani. “It was only when LE DOULOS was finished and Belmondo saw himself on the screen that he realized, with great astonishment, ‘Christ! The stoolie is me!’” - Melville.


LOLA (1961)
1961, Janus Films, 90 min, France, Dir: Jacques Demy

Jacques Demy’s feature debut was described by its director as a “musical without music,” though “a love story without love” may be just as appropriate. Roland (Marc Michel, who would later play the same role in Demy’s THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG) is smitten with his former girlfriend, Dietrich-esque cabaret dancer Lola (Anouk Aimée), but she pines for the lover who abandoned her years earlier. French New Wave mainstays Raoul Coutard and Michel Legrand provide the cinematography and score, respectively. In French and English with English subtitles.


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