Army Of Shadows

on April 28, 2006 by Ed Scheid
"Army of Shadows," Jean-Pierre Melville's exciting 1969 film of the French Resistance during World War II, has been newly restored and will be released in the U.S. for the first time. It is based on the novel by Joseph Kessel ("Belle de Jour") and on the experiences of director/writer Melville, who like Kessel was a member of the Resistance.

As Paris is occupied, Phillipe Gerbier (Lino Ventura, "Garde a Vue") and his comrades in the Resistance (including Paul Meurisse, Jean-Pierre Cassel and Claude Mann) are under constant danger of discovery by the Nazis. Mathilde (Simone Signoret), whose family is unaware that she is a member of the Resistance, is an astute strategist for the group as it defies the Nazis and plans some elaborate escape attempts.

Playing average citizens in continual jeopardy, the cast is excellent. Melville ("Le Cercle Rouge") maintains a taut suspense throughout. Muted colors reflect the loss of freedom under the Nazis. Melville's depiction of the intricate details of the shadowy world of the resistance network makes "Army of Shadows" a riveting historical film noir. Starring Lino Ventura, Simone Signoret, Paul Meurisse, Jean-Pierre Cassel and Claude Mann. Directed and written by Jean-Pierre Melville. Produced by Jacques Dorfmann. A Rialto release. Drama/Thriller. French-language; subtitled. Not yet rated. Running time: 144 min

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