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FRENCH

ACTION/THRILLERS

A KING WITHOUT DISTRACTION (1963)-In French with English subs, letterboxed print. A policeman and a serial killer play cat and mouse in an isolated mountain village in Nineteenth century France. Claude Girard, Colette Renard, and Charles Vanel star, directed by Francois Leterrieri.

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THIEF OF CRIMES (1969)-In French with English subs, letterboxed print. WOW! Jean-Louis Trintignant, Robert Hossein and Florinda Bolkan star, directed by Nadine Trintignant. An unhappily married man with two children watches a beautiful woman kill herself when she ties herself inside a car and drives off a cliff. Jean (Jean-Louis Trintignant) tries to save the woman but is too late. After hanging out with his bohemian friends, he writes a letter to the local newspaper saying that he killed the woman. Jean is galvanized by the sensationalism of the headlines and becomes intoxicated with thoughts of murder...

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FRANCE ANONYMOUS SOCIETY (1974)-In French with English subs, letterboxed print directed by Alain Corneau. Among the other interesting features of this French crime drama is a brief consideration of the dire consequences of the legalization of drugs. The Chief (Michel Bouquet) is a drug dealer whose empire ranges beyond the country guilty of legalizing drugs. He has been captured and nearly killed by an American rival and is being kept painfully alive by life-support machinery. The film begins in the future when the Chief is awakened from suspended animation and in flashback recounts his story to the naked woman who has freed him. i guess i would call it a very ferocious social & political satire to be specific, but i think it is also sci-fi : the film starts in the year 2222, and it is based on the idea that France would legalize all drugs (while time has proven that so far they did the opposite, actually).

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HIGHWAY PICKUP (1963)-in French with English subs, letterboxed print. Robert Hossein, jean Sorel, and Catherine Rouvel (WOW she is hot!) star in this Julian Duvivier film. Daniel and Paul are two factory workers who supplement their income by some nocturnal safe-cracking.   But their luck soon runs out: caught red-handed during a robbery, Paul kills a man before fleeing whilst Daniel is shot and arrested.  Sometime later, Daniel manages to escape whilst being transferred to a prison and goes into hiding in Haute-Provence.  There, he befriends the owner of a remote petrol station, Thomas, who invites him to live with him and his wife, Maria, in exchange for doing odd jobs.  When she discovers that Daniel is an escaped criminal and safe-cracker, Maria decides to coerce him into breaking open her husband’s safe, so that she can run off with his substantial nest egg.  Daniel is reluctant to betray his new friend but has no choice when Maria threatens to hand him over to the police.   When he learns the truth, Thomas turns on his wife, but she kills him in self-defense.  Having disposed of the body, Maria and Daniel continue to run the petrol station as if nothing has happened, although Maria is still eager to escape with the money which remains locked up in the safe.  Then Daniel’s friend Paul makes an unexpected appearance.  When she realities that the newcomer is in the same line of business as Daniel, Maria finds him instantly attractive...

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SOME TOO QUIET GENTLEMEN (1973)-In French with English subs, letterboxed print. he sleepy little village of Loubressac is well on its way to becoming a ghost town. To save the town, the local citizenry hatch a plan to attract tourists. To their horror, the plan misfires when a group of hippies are the first to move in. The hippies' free and unconventional ways quickly upset the staid lives of the locals. Then one of the locals is found murdered, and suspicion inevitably falls on the newcomers. Eventually, the locals and the hippies join forces to solve the mystery, and in the course of their adventures learn to respect each others' ways. Lots of nudity and directed by Georges Lautner, the film stars Miou Miou and Charles Southwood.

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3 ROOMS IN MANHATTAN (1965)-In French with english subs, letterboxed print. When his wife leaves him, a young French actor, François Combe, moves to New York to work for a television company.  One evening, he meets an attractive young woman, Kay Larsi, in a bar.  She is as lost and unhappy as he is, alone after her friend and flatmate Jessie left her.  François and Kay become lovers, initially renting a room in a hotel before moving into François’ apartment.  When François finds out that Kay is not only the wife of a diplomat, but also a wealthy countess who ran off with a gigolo, he begins to have doubts about the relationship.  Then Kay announces she must return to her home in Mexico to visit her sick daughter... Compelling performances from Maurice Ronet (who appears to be reprising his role from Louis Malle’s Le Feu Follet) and Annie Girardot (who was awarded the Grand Prize  at Venice in 1965 for her role in this film).  The film also marks the first screen appearance of Robert de Niro (aged 22) in a brief walk-on part.

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GHOSTS OF CHAPELIER (1982)-In French with english subs, letterboxed print. Rare Claude Chabrol film starring Michel Serrault and Charles Aznavour. In this murder mystery, based on a Georges Simenon novel, a homicidal maniac goes on a killing spree beginning with his wife... He then kills six of her aged friends and is preparing to murder a seventh when the intended victim dies naturally. As a substitute, he murders his favorite hooker, a crime that leads the police right to him.

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SPOTLIGHT ON STANISLAS (1965)-In French with English subs., letterboxed print. Stanislas (Jean Marais) is a wealthy and well-heeled French secret agent who is called out of retirement for another mission in this routine spy saga. When he receives some secret plans from a dying man, Stanislas becomes the target of an international manhunt. Marais continues his role in the popular French series that steers clear of the campy gadgets associated with the James Bond school of spy thrillers. Nadja Tiller co-stars.

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THE SHADOW LINE (1973)-In French with English subs.  Georges Franju TV movie based on two Joseph Conrad novellas, The Shadow Line and A Smile of Fortune. It’s been described as a ghost story without a ghost. It could also be called an action film without any action. A ship in the Far East, becalmed at sea, the crew stricken with fever. The overbearing presence of the former captain hanging over the ship, cursing it, wishing it doomed. This Joseph Conrad's adaptation (the hero, we are told, is the writer's avatar) shows some of Franju's best qualities: a sense of mystery and his natural ability to create strange atmospheres. "La Ligne D'Ombre" looks like an adventures movie but it isn't cause almost nothing happens, except for an epidemic and the discovery that there's no quinine aboard. "Inner adventures" or “a voyage through one mind" best describes the film.

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TAKE IT EASY…IT’S A WALTZ (1971)-In French with English subs, letterboxed print. Having made some pretty respectable thrillers – such Le Pacha (1968) – Georges Lautner returned to the genre for which he best known, the decidedly off-the-wall comedy-thriller.   Laisse aller, c’est une valse attempts to follow the winning formula of Lautner’s previous hits, Les Tontons flinguers (1963) and Ne nous fâchons pas (1966) but doesn’t quite pull it off. There’s a great deal to like about this film – an excellent cast, some very witty dialogue and possibly the most hilarious love-making scene in French cinema. the film does deliver some very decent laughs, and the pairing of Jean Yanne with the lovely Mireille Darc (which was last attempted by Jean-Luc Godard in his 1967 film Week End) works a treat, a case of contrasting personalities (just how many misogynistic obscenities can Jean Yanne deliver in one breath?) hitting just the right note.  There are also some fine contributions from Bernard Blier and Michel Constantin, two of the most familiar faces in French thrillers.

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HO (1968)-In French with English subs, letterboxed print. Jean-Paul Belmondo stars as an ex-racing driver who has subsequently become a getaway driver, and acquires a taste for the fame criminal life can bring. Between robberies he romances fashion model Joanna Shimkus, starring in the third of her three films with director Robert Enrico. From the book by Jose Giovanni.

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THE INFERNAL TRIO (1974)-In French with English subs, letterboxed print. There was an outcry when "le trio infernal" was released in 1974;the subject was nefarious. Sometimes recalling Leonard Kastle's incomparable "the honeymoon killers"(1969),it depicted the crimes of a Lawyer(Piccoli),his lover (Schneider),and the lover's young sister. Most horrible scene: to get rid of one of their victims' dead body, they dissolve it in sulphuric acid! The director insists on "preparations". We attend the whole thing, the director goes as far as showing the "heroes" emptying the bath tub with pails ,a gas mask on the face.

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MY BROTHER-IN-LAW KILLED MY SISTER (1986)-In French with English subs, letterboxed print. This parody of the detective-story genre merrily detours into spoofing French foibles as well, making it more of an exercise in verbal gymnastics than a narrative with a mission. Esther is a veterinarian who is certain that her sister has been murdered by her brother-in-law. She convinces two members of the Academie Francaise, the prestigious institution that protects the virginity of the French language, to investigate. Both men are enamored of the woman and are quite willing to enter into competition for her favors. As might be expected from academicians of any ilk, they are inept at digging into a murder mystery and bumble their way through one incident after another. Corpses continue to pile up (not in front of the camera, however) while the two men are sidetracked by their interest in language. Given their positions, they do not want that murdered either. Stars Michel Serrault, Juliette Binoche, and Milva.

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POLICE PYTHON 357 (1976)-In French with English subs, letterboxed print. A cop accidentally involved in the murder of his chief's mistress, decides to start his own investigation and discovers soon that the real murderer is his own boss. However, all the evidences and clues of the case are against him. Yves Montand, Stefania sandrelli, and Simone Signoret star and Alain Corneau directs.

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THE RUM ROUTE (1971)-In French with English subs, letterboxed print. In the prohibition years, the 'rumrunners' travel through the Caribbean Sea with the forbidden liquor barely escaping the ship patrols. While on the run, one of the bootleggers falls in love with an actress on a movie set. Brigitte Bardot,  Lino Ventura, and Clive Revill star, directed by Robert Enrico.

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BEYOND FEAR (1975)-In French with English subs, letterboxed print. A group of outlaws takes a man's wife and child hostage. He must walk a fine line between working with the police to rescue his family and not angering the kidnappers to the point where they might hurt or kill them. The film stars Marilu tolo, Michel Bouquet, Michel Constantin, Michel Creton, and Paul Crauchet. An excellent French thriller!

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CONCERT OF FEAR (1963)-aka NIGHT OF LUST, In French with English subs, letterboxed print. Kidnappings, murders and gang war for the control of a drug traffic...There's really a unique touch in those early Jose Bénazéraf movies. The film straddles between a thriller, exploitation and Nouvelle Vague... As I understand it, the version released in the US is severely cut and suffers from a ludicrous English dubbing. The movie certainly deserves better than that...The film stars Michel lemoine, jean-Pierre kalfon and Yvonne Montlaur.

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THE GORILLA BIT THE ARCHBISHOP (1962)-In French with English subs, letterboxed print. An agent of the DST, nicknamed The Gorilla, is hired to end the intriguing activities of a trust which controls the assassination of the secretary general of the French Community of African States to prevent the construction of a railway line. The Gorilla, posing as a killer gets the President of the trust, the Archbishop, to reveal his true identity and takes his son. After several fights, the Gorilla saves his son forcing the President to commit suicide.This enjoyable French sixties spy film stars Roger Hanin, Jean lepoulain, and James Campbell, directed by Maurice Labbro.

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THE HORSE OF PRIDE (1980)-In French with english subs, letterboxed print. Rare film by Claude Chabrol. In early twentieth-century Brittany, two peasants marry, have a son, and live in traditional Breton ways: three generations under one roof, a division of labor between the sexes, elders' stories at night, politics and religion during their little free time. Times are hard: la Chienne du Monde drives some to suicide; Ankou (death) is close at hand. Pierre is born into this republican family, his lyric childhood interrupted by the outbreak of war and his father's conscription. He learns his catechism and, as a child of a Reds, also reveres school. His grandfather and father often put him on their shoulders, giving him a ride on the horse of pride.

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BUTTERFLY SOUTH OF E’PAULE (1978)-In French with English subs. This film starts out like a lot of espionage thrillers: an innocent man witnesses a murder and finds himself mixed up in a deadly intrigue of spies and counter-spies. "Un papillon sur l'épaule" works better because it never fully gives up its mystery. We know that something sinister is afoot and we can make some intelligent guesses, but the thing is never spelled out for us. Lino Ventura is like Alice (a paunchy, middle-aged Alice) who tumbles down a rabbit-hole and wakes up in a world that's not quite the same as before, where no-one believes him or can explain what's happening and where innocuous-looking strangers suddenly take on a menacing significance. The white rabbit of this particular looking-glass world is played by Claudine Auger, a slinky spy who keeps whizzing up in a battered car to dispense gnomic advice and warnings. Paul Crauchet, who acted with Ventura nine years earlier in Melville's "L'Armée des ombres", plays a lunatic in pyjamas with an imaginary talking butterfly on his shoulder and a scarecrow in his bed. . The film stars Lino Ventura and was directed by Jacques Deray.

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125 RUE DU MONTMARTRE (1959)-In French with English subs, letterboxed print. Lino Ventura gives one of his legendary tour de force performances in this intricate mystery-thriller, a compelling film which appears to have been influenced by both American film noir and the work of Alfred Hitchcock.  This is one of the better films to be directed by Gilles Grangier, who is perhaps best known for his light-hearted comedies – such as Le Gentleman d’Epsom (1962) and La Cuisine au beurre (1963) - although his crime dramas probably have greater merit.  

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PARIS PICKUP (1962)-In French with eng subs, letterboxed print. Robert Hossein and Lea mascara star. Released from prison one Christmas evening, Robert Herbin tries to contact his mother, only to find that she died whilst he was in jail.  Alone and uncertain where to go, Robert enters a café where he meets a solitary woman and her young daughter.  The woman, Marthe, pleases Robert and, out of kindness, he escorts her and her child back to her apartment.  Marthe tells Robert that her husband is away on business but she resists his attempts to seduce her.  Later, Marthe changes her mind and invites the stranger back to her apartment.  On his return, Robert is surprised to find the dead body of Marthe’s husband...

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SEXUS (1966)-In French with eng subs, letterboxed print. Uncut original French version, directed by Jose Benzaref. A beautiful heiress is kidnapped and held hostage until her wealthy father comes up with a ransom. The heiress develops an attraction to one of her kidnappers, but another member of the gang tries to rape her, leading to a deadly triangle. Another pretty cool crime/exploitation Nouvelle-Vague style early Bénazéraf flick. The story is very basic (and reminiscent of "Le concerto de la peur"), it's almost silent and it sometimes becomes a bit pompous but there's really a great and unique touch there... lpannen’s gang, only to find that they have all been murdered...

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