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FRENCH

ACTION/THRILLERS

SPEAKING OF MURDER (1957)-In French with eng subs.Jean Gabin and Lino Ventura star. Louis Bertain, a respectable garage owner by day, is the head of a band of notorious crooks by night.  When a hold-up goes badly wrong, Bertain’s younger brother Pierre is suspected of having sold them out to the police. He was, after all, recently picked up by the police and then released after questioning. When he is finally caught by Commissaire Pluvier, Louis discovers that he has been betrayed not by Pierre but by another member of his gang…

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DEATH OF MARIO RICCI (1983)-In French with English subs, letterboxed print.Gian Maria Volonte and Mimsy Farmer star. A famous TV-reporter (Gian Maria Volonte) comes to a remote village of Switzerland to interview the famous scientist Henri kremer (Heinz Bennent) about his solution to the problem of world hunger. As their dialogue seems stuck, the reporter meanwhile investigates about italian immigrant worker Mario Ricci's mysterious death, thus exposing the xenophobia and violence that plague this apparently peaceful, clean village. The director of "The Lacemaker" invites us here not to neglect our own local problems when trying to solve more complex world issues.

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THE GHOSTLY RENTAL (1965)-In French with english subs. At the end of the 19th Century, young Fanning finishes his studies in theology at the University of Cambridge. During a walk through the countryside, the boy, inspired by the lecture of romantic novels, discovers an abandonned house, from which an old man is coming out. He returns to the house regularly without ever seeing its mysterious inhabitant. Fanning finally surprises the old man while he is sitting on a bench at the cemetery and manages to gain his confidence...Directed by Robert Enrico and starring Stephane fey, Michael Lonsdale, and Marie Laforet.

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THE GORILLA WALTZES (1959)-In French with english subs. Eurospy film by Bernard Borderie and starring Roger Hanin. This is the third feature in a series about an intrepid French spy by the nickname of "The Gorilla," but unlike the earlier films, this time around Roger Hanin replaces Lino Ventura in the title role. A West German scientist has discovered a way to recover missiles shot into space, and the major Western powers are after his secret. Even though the scientist is willing to pass his discovery on to NATO, it is guarded by an elite, undercover West German police force. As foreign agents, including the Russians and Americans, try to get their hands on the secret, "The Gorilla" is forced into the affair by his surly, aging boss -- he has to make sure that the scientist's discovery ends up with NATO.

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MURDER AT 45 RPMS (1960)-In French with English subs, letterboxed print. This print is 12 minutes longer than English dub version!  As a fan of murder mysteries, I must give this thumbs up. You are provided with a small group of suspicious characters, an interesting mystery that goes way beyond "who killed whom", and the usual French technical virtuosity and spiritual malaise. Serious mystery fans will probably place this on the same shelf with PLEASE MURDER ME and THE NIGHT WALKER, and it's as clever as either of those gems. I also like the fact that the writers of the film have constructed it in such a way that you really don't know if the victim is even dead until the film's final scene...which is AFTER the "resolution" of the crime! There are nice ironic twists throughout, but in unexpected ways. Overall, a nice little genre film that the serious murder mystery fan is sure to enjoy. Director: Etienne Périer, Danielle Darrieux ... Eve Faugeres, Michel Auclair ... Jean Le Prat, Jean Servais ... Maurice Faugères, Raymond Gérôme ... Le commissaire, Mathilde Casadesus ... Elsa

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HELL ON THE BEACH (1966)-In French with eng subs, letterboxed print. Jose Bénazéraf wasn't really making exploitation movies like other people did. It's a thriller with spies and femmes fatales but it's also a strange and abstract object, with references to the Greek mythology and a heavy atmosphere of fate and fatality... Sometimes borderline pompous but actually greatly fun to watch and hey, it still has lots of nudity. Beautiful B&W cinematography as well.

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JUDGE AND THE KILLER (1976)-In French with eng subs, letterboxed print. Joseph Bouvier, a former Sergeant in the French military, shoots his beloved and attempts to kill himself. Having survived with two bullets in his brain, he is released from the Dole medical facility, a place of mental and physical filthiness. Then begins a five-year period of wandering on the roads of the South East of France, during which Bouvier rapes and eventually kills two dozen defenseless shepherds and farm servants of both sexes.Depravity and corruption are set against the backdrop of rural 19th century France in this harrowing courtroom drama about a judge who takes on the case of Sgt. Bouvier, an insane criminal who suffered various traumas including rape, skull wounds, a rabid dog attack, and shock therapy before raping and murdering dozens of shepherds. It soon seems, however, that the questionable intentions and methods of Judge Rosseau, who sees the case as a good career move, and the ramifications of the system in which he operates share more in common with Bouvier's deplorable actions than his Honor would like to think. Le Juge et L'Assassin probes a curious relationship between condemner and condemnee. Philippe Noiret plays Rousseau.

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THE 7TH JUROR(1963)-In French with english subs, letterboxed print. « Le 7ème juré » (The 7th Juror) is a great psychological thriller with no hint of comedy, although it was directed by Georges Lautner, of whom this is one of the very best achievement. Bernard Blier is outstanding as the respectable man who kills a woman then is designated as a member of the jury during the trial where an innocent man is accused of his crime. The rest of the cast, including Francis Blanche, Danièle Delorme and Maurice Biraud, is very good too and the direction is faultless. Oh, and let’s not forget some surprising nudity for the time.

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MISTRESS OF THE WORLD (1960)-UNCUT 122 minute print! In French with English subs, letterboxed print. Director: William Dieterle. When a trio of scientists discovers a formula that allows a magnetic field to knock out electricity over a large area, they become the target of kidnappers. Interpol is called in to find the scientists and recover the formula.Cast: Martha Hyer ... Karin Johansson, Micheline Presle ... Madame Latour, Carlos Thompson ... Peter Lundstroem, Lino Ventura ... Biamonte, Sabu ... Dr. Lin-Chor.

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THE WICKED GO TO HELL (1955)-In French with English subs.Marina Vlady and Robert Hossein (who also directs) star. Two dangerous criminals, Macquart and Rudel, break out of prison and go on the run.  They hide out in an isolated house owned by an artist whom they kill.  The artist’s lover, Eve, decides to avenge his death by playing the two fugitives off against each other.  When they realise how they have been manipulated, the two villains try to escape – but they fall straight into Eve’s deadly trap....

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I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (1959)-In french with English subs, letterboxed print. This film tells the story of a black man, Joe Grant (Christian Marquand) that has white skin, and decides to revenge his brother's death. He goes to a town and starts hanging around the people he thinks are involved in the lynching. The young crowd that should have the style of "Rebel Without a Cause" look more like they came from "La Dolce Vita". The women get crazy about Joe, working in a library. He seems to have ambivalent feelings, almost strangling them at the beginning, and then becoming passionate. He falls in love with a rich girl, Lizbeth Shannon (Antonella Lualdi) which corresponds him, but is engaged to Stan, the gang's leader. Meanwhile Lizbeth's sister Sylvia will try to seduce him. For those who like sports cars of the fifties there is a nice looking Austin Healey. There is love, passion, but most of all hate in this impressive film.

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THE ADVENTURE (1972)-In French with English subs, letterboxed print. Directed by Claude Lelouch and starring Lino Ventura, Jacques Brel, Charles Denner and Johnny Hallyday. When they realize the times are changing, five crooks decide to switch from bank robberies to personality abductions. Among their hostages are singer Johnny Hallyday and an ambassador in Latin America. They get framed by a guerrilla leader, who had been kidnapped by them before, and while being tried the French Government decides to let them flee to Africa where they get on with the same old game.

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THE GANG (1977)-In French with English subs, letterboxed print. Jacques Deray directs Alain Delon and Laura Betti. In 1945, as World War Two comes to a close, five small time crooks unite to form a gang. After several bold robberies they become notorious as "the front-wheel drive gang". The police attempt to stop their crime spree with little success, but how long will their luck last ?

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THE WRETCHES (1960)-in French with English subs. Cast: Michèle Morgan, Robert Hossein, Olivier Hussenot, Jacqueline Morane, Paul Bisciglia. Another moody black and white masterpiece by Director/Actor Robert Hossein! A French girl goes to work as a maid for a rich, quarrelsome American couple in the house across the street, and falls for the husband. Another of Robert Hossein's fascinating noirish chamber pieces about troubled relationship triangles.

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THE IDOLS (1968)-In French with eng subs. Made in 1969, was this ever correct in predicting the narcissistic, reality TV based shithole that is current entertainment! The sole feature film directed by the Lettrist  Marc’o (aka Marc-Gilbert Guillaumin -- with André Téchiné as assistant director and Jean Eustache editing) satirizes the burgeoning industry of popular culture and the commercial machinations of celebrity in late sixties France. Pierre Clémenti plays Charly le Surineur to Bulle Ogier's Gigi la Folle,  cynically parodying real-life French pop stars Johnny Hallyday and France Gall. This film captures the anti-establishment heart of the young of rigid France by pillorying the sacred-cow of sixties-era idols. It is a priceless document of its time, being particularly visionary in the light of the contemporary obsession with manufacturing pop idols.

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SINS ON THE BEACH (1964)-In French with eng subs.  With L’Eternite Pour Nous (Sin on the Beach) in 1961, Bénazéraf became one of the very first Europeans to write, produce, and direct his own films.  But even then he wasn’t entirely free from the sort of petty interference that so exasperates him.  The distributor found the title “too literary” and suggested Le Cri de la chair (The Cry of the Flesh).  Bénazéraf said, “Well, if you want…but why not My Grandfather’s Bollocks!”…

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ADORABLE LIAR (1962)-In French with english subs, letterboxed print. Juliette(Marina Vlady) is a young woman who just can’t help lying. She lies to her sister, Sophie, to Sophie’s fiancé Martin, and to all the men she attracts with her womanly charms. But when she falls for an older man, a 40-year old lawyer, her reputation as a liar precedes her and she cannot convince him that he really does love him. This light romantic comedy has the allure and feel of New Wave cinema but appears pretty inconsequential besides the works of the masters such as Truffaut and Godard. The film alternates between youthful exuberance, passionate romance and dark film policier without being convincing or satisfying in either mode. Still, Marina Vlady is delightful as the compulsive liar who gets hoist by her own mendacious petard and the film makes a valid statement about the nature of human relationships.

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BELLE (1973)-IN FRENCH WITH ENG SUBS, LETTERBOXED PRINT. The line between fantasy and reality is once more blurred in this Belgian/French drama about a professor of literature who develops an obsession with a beautiful woman he meets (or imagines meeting) in the woods. He has an affair with this woman, but before he can run off with her, his daughter, who is an object of his incestuous desire (as several daydream sequences make clear), kills the stranger. Perhaps, though, his daughter only kills his daydreams when she gets married. Directed by Andre Delvaux and starring Jean-Luc Bideau ... Mathieu Grégoire, Danièle Delorme   ... Jeanne, Adriana Bogdan ... Belle.

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THE CURSE OF BELPHEGOR (1967)-IN FRENCH WITH ENG SUBS, LETTERBOXED PRINT. Obviously made to capitalize on the (deserved ) success of the miniseries which French TV broadcast the preceding year, the film stars Dominique Boschero and Paul Guers. Great "noir" (more then horror) movie. The phantom of the Louvre was really terrific. I saw it recently, 30 years later, and I would consider it a "gothic" movie. There's a great take on the GOLDFINGER laser beam torture sequence.  Interesting sequences, at the beginning, showing Paris in the 60s.

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MALE HUNT (1964)-IN FRENCH WITH ENG SUBS. Director: Edouard Molinaro. Jean-Paul Belmondo ... Bernand, Jean-Claude Brialy ... Antoine Monteil, Françoise Dorléac ... Sandra, Marie Laforêt ... Gisèle, Claude Rich ... Julien, Catherine Deneuve ... Denise. In this French comedy from director Edouard Molinaro, a young Jean-Paul Belmondo stars as Fernand, a groom-to-be who is dissuaded from stepping up to the altar by his two friends after they terrify him with their personal marriage horror stories. Antoine immediately ditches his bride and heads for Greece, but not before giving his friend Antoine (Jean-Claude Brialy) his honeymoon cruise tickets. Aboard the boat, Antoine meets and falls in love. Meanwhile, Fernand falls in love with a swindler and becomes determined to marry her. Also featuring a 21-year-old Catherine Deneuve, La Chasse A L'Homme was released in the United States in 1965 under the title Male Hunt.

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THE PINK TELEPHONE (1975)-IN FRENCH WITH ENG SUBS, letterboxed print. Le Téléphone Rose (Pink telephone) is what they call in France those hotlines where you can talk dirty to a female operator during five minutes for an outrageous amount of money. In the 70s, when sex on the phone wasn’t really the thing, I guess it meant prostitution. In this movie, a French businessman is tricked into accepting a partnership with a big American company when he falls madly in love with a woman who’s supposedly the niece of one of its executives. In fact, as he soon discovers, she’s a call girl... The problem being that he’s still in love with her. Although Pierre Mondy is almost always on screen while she has just a few scenes, this is Mireille Darc’s movie, her charm and beauty being the main reasons to watch.

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BEAUTIFUL SWINDLERS (1964)-IN FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBS. INCLUDES THE POLANSKI EPISODE THAT WAS CUT FROM ALL RECENT RELEASES!!Some of the most famous directors in the world (Charles Chabrol, Jean-Luc Godard, Roman Polanski, etc) contribute to this anthology film about people who cheat others. Four swindle stories, taking place successively in Tokyo - Japan (Les cinq bienfaiteurs de Fumiko), Amsterdam - The Netherlands (La riviere de diamants), Italie (La feuille de route), and Paris - France (L'homme qui vendit la tour Eiffel), Mie Hama, Catherine Deneuve, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Gabriella Giorgelli, and Charles Denner star.

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FANTOMAS (1979)-In French with english subs. EXTREMELY RARE TV FILM based on the first Fantomas Novel, and is called L'Echafaud magique. Produced by Claude Barma, directed by Claude Chabrol, adaptation and dialogue by Bernard Revon, music by Georges Delerue. Cast: Helmut Berger (Fantômas/Gurn), Jacques Dafilho (Juve), Pierre Malet (Fandor), Gayle Hunnicutt (Lady Beltham).

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