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FRENCH

ACTION/THRILLERS

THE SIN OF FATHER MOURET aka LA FAUTE DE L'ABBE MOURET (1970)-IN FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBS. Director: Georges Franju and starring Francis Huster, Gillian Hills, André Lacombe. Serge Mouret is a frail and devout young priest in a tough country parish. When he falls down and loses his memory, he is nursed back to health by Albine, the beautiful carefree niece of the outspoken atheist Jeanbernat. After Serge and Albine fall in love, Serge recovers his memory and realizes the grave sin he has committed. The most famous scene is the heroine's strange suicide: she uses flowers.

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THE CREATURES (1966)-IN FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBS, LETTERBOXED PRINT. Another great upgrade to what was previously only available in a shitty looking version! Agnes Varda's "Les Creatures" is a complex and nearly hypnotic study of the way fact is made into fiction. It seems to operate on many levels, but in fact it operates on only one, illustrating how fantasy, reality and style are simultaneously kept suspended in the mind of a creative writer. The writer is played by Michel Piccoli (that marvelously sinister star of Bunuel's "Diary of a Chambermaid"). He lives with his wife, a mute, in an isolated village where they become the center of gossip. Varda occasionally cuts to a red-tinted screen that shows hypothetical scenes of the villagers as robots. These fantasies are related to the writer's feelings toward his wife (the lovely Catherine Deneuve). She became mute after an auto accident for psychological reasons, apparently, and not physical ones. Now she is pregnant; the writer's ideas about creation and control mirror his attitude toward her.

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LA MACHINE A DECOUDRE (1986)-IN FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBS, LETTERBOXED PRINT. Oh my God! Jean Pierre-Mocky is a madman, one of the strangest directors ever. The film features Miss France from 1980 and Mocky's wife-to-be Patricia Barzyk who is naked during the whole film, and she sure looks nice. Mocky plays the lead, an insane serial killer. The insane Doctor Enger is obsessed with his plan to build a hospital to cure blind children. He has a chance encounter with Steff, an unemployed man who is selling his gun to make ends meet. Enger takes the gun, shoots a bartender, kidnaps Steff, and launches a killing and carjacking spree. He is accompanied the entire time by the naked or nearly-naked Liliane (in real life, a former Miss France). Enger apparently does all this in order to further his plan. The police are in pursuit but are unable to catch him. The mayor, up for re- election, is forced to do damage control.

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THE MYSTERIOUS DR CORNELIUS (1984)-IN FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBS. A six episode mini-series made for French TV in 1984. Starring Gérard Desarthe, Jean Bouise, Antoine Baud. Cornélius Kramm and his brother, Fritz, rule an international criminal empire called the "Red Hand." Cornélius is a brilliant scientist and a mad surgeon, occasionally nicknamed the "Sculptor of Human Flesh" for his demoniacal ability to alter people's likenesses through the science of "carnoplasty". He is a cool and calculating man, always scheming, always in control, who enjoys his wealthy surroundings in New York and Paris. His brother Fritz is more of a henchman, a man of action, who rules the Red Hand with an iron fist.COMES ON 3 DVDS FOR $25.

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THAT MAN IS DANGEROUS (1953)-IN FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBS. Director: Jean Sacha and starring Eddie Constantine, Colette Deréal, Grégoire Aslan, Claude Borelli. Eddie plays secret agent Lemmy Caution. On the run from international police, Special Agent Lemmy Caution arrives in the South of France and soon become embroiled in a scheme with the infamous gangster Siegella. Whilst seeming to co-operate with the underworld boss, Lemmy is secretly acting for the FBI, and intends using Miranda Van Zelten, a wealthy heiress, as bait to trap a gang of crooks and put an end to Siegella's exploits…

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THOMAS THE IMPOSTER (1965)-IN FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBS, LETTERBOXED PRINT. Rare film by director Georges (EYES WITHOUT A FACE) Franju. In the First World War, when Paris is expected to fall to the Germans, the attractive widow, Princesse de Bormes, organises a convoy of cars to evacuate the wounded from the front, and bring them back to her villa in Paris to recuperate. The authorities will not give them passes until an innocent 16-year-old boy, Guillaume Thomas de Fontenoy, joins them and is mistaken as the nephew of the popular General de Fontenoy. The Princess is enraptured by Thomas and her daughter, Henriette, falls in love with him. However Thomas feels impelled to see more of the action of the war. Starring Emmanuelle Riva and Jean Servais. "Thomas l'imposteur" is a remarkable film, dismissed too easily by some of its critics because the story is episodic, loose and lacks conventional intensity arising from plot twists. This is true, but more than compensated for by its staging, its poetic realism, some of its acting, certain amazing sequences and its many ironies. In addition, the anti-war character of the film pervades it as it shows one of war's absurdities after another, including behavior of the clergy.

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PRINCESS OF CLEVES (1961)-IN FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBS, LETTERBOXED PRINT. Director: Jean Delannoy and starring Jean Marais, Marina Vlady, Jean-François Poron. Madame de La Fayette's early proto-novel, the Princesse de Cleves, is well-served by this lush film adaptation. This tragedy of two star-crossed lovers, directed by Jean Delannoy, is based on a 17th-century novel by Madame de La Fayette. When a young teen (Marina Vlady) marries the Prince of Cleves (Jean Marais), more than twice her age, she automatically becomes an official Princess and takes her new position to heart. Although distracted by the elite entertainments found at court, the princess cannot help but mourn her impossible love for the dashing Duc de Nemours (Jean-François Poron). Faithful to her husband in spite of her longings for the Duc, her fidelity -- as is always the case -- is unfairly doubted and maligned, leading to trouble all around.

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THE HAUNTED CHAIR (2010)-IN FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBS, LETTERBOXED PRINT. Director

Claude Chabrol, Based upon a novel by Gaston Leroux. Michel Duchaussoy ... Gaspard Lalouette

Pierre Vernier ... Hyppolite Patard, Michael Lonsdale ... Le Grand Loustalot. A newspaper article comes out with the title "The Haunted chair!” It talks about how candidates for the vacant position in the French Academy were dying suddenly one after the other. The question arises: who benefits from all those crimes? A journalist is intrigued by the article and begins conducting his own investigation. He meets Lalouette, an expert in gossip with an attentive ear and Patard, the Permanent Secretary of the Academy who is annoyed at the number of people now dead. Panic and fear set in and suspicions spread...

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TRAIN FROM HELL (1965)-IN FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBS, LETTERBOXED PRINT. When fishermen find the body of a dead man in their nets, secret agent Antoine Donadieu starts investigating the murder. He soon learns that a Chriscraft that might have something to do with the murder has been spotted by a witness. It leads Donadieu to a luxurious villa, where some strange characters are living, including a violent valet called Hamlet, a painter with some resemblance with Salvador Dali and a gorgeous Senta Berger-like vamp with tempting lips, played by Austrian belle Marisa Mell (1939-1992). (After a terrible car crash in 1963, two years before this movie was made, she underwent heavy plastic surgery in the face). Donadieu is a convincing answer to James Bond, unraveling a plot that might have endangered world peace. Donadieu's impressive knowledge of judo and karate and a laser gun, and other gadgets (watch out for the superb silver Alfa Romeo sports-car).

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I KILLED RASPUTIN (1967)-IN FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBS, LETTERBOXED PRINT. COMPLETELY DIFFERENT VERSION THAN THE CURRENTLY AVAILABLE ENGLISH DUBBED PRINT. Director: Robert Hossein and Stars: Gert Fröbe, Peter McEnery, Robert Hossein, and Geraldine Chaplain. Of all Hossein's films, this one is perhaps the most unexpected. Half low-budget period spectacle, half Hammer extravaganza, the film opens with an interview where the real Prince Yusupov, Rasputin's assassin, barely alive in 1966 or 1967, and flanked by his wife Irina, is made to confirm on camera - more or less - that the following story is a true account. Whereupon Hossein proceeds to make him the villain of the piece - a bumbling, hesitating, weak-willed effeminate clown. And basically what horror the film contains is the horror of Yusupov's weakness and treachery, not of Rasputin's off-camera excesses. It is an extraordinary reversal of the viewer's expectations which infuses the movie with a lot more suspense than a more orthodox account ever could.

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THE ABYSSES (1963)-IN FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBS. Director: Nikos Papatakis (as Nico Papatakis), Stars: Francine Bergé, Colette Bergé, Pascale de Boysson. In 1963, 30 years and a world war after the real life crime committed in France by the Papin sisters, or rather, how the breaking of three taboos at once, incest, lesbianism, and workers revolt, always stirs a turmoil of passions. André Malraux imposed the showing of this film at the Cannes Film Festival 1963, after a public declaration of support from a large number of French intellectuals and artists, amidst a major uproar and social criticism. The followers of the Surrealism movement took the Papin sisters case as paradigm of class revolt, and a signal that a social revolution was already taking place. Romantics saw in these grisly murders the emergence of absolute Evil, like Lautréamont in `Les Chants de Maldoror'.

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MICHAEL STROGOFF (1956)-IN FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBS.  Director: Carmine Gallone, Stars: Curd Jürgens, Geneviève Page, Jacques Dacqmine, Slyva Koscina. In 19th century Russia a Tartar rebellion led by Feofar Khan separates mainland Russia from the Russian far east.The Tsar's brother isolated and surrounded in Siberia is making a last stand with his troops.The Tsar entrusts Captain Michel Strogoff to deliver a vital message to his brother in Siberia. Although Verne's famous novel has been filmed many many times, this one made number one at the 1956 French box office ;it was so commercially successful that a sequel was made afterward. Curd Jurgends is efficient and handsome and he and Genevieve Page make a nice pair. You can notice other lovely actresses in supporting parts: Sylva Koscina ,the sword and sandal queen ,and Françoise Fabian ,who would turn into a rather intellectual thespian as the years went passing by .Sylvie ,a seasoned actress ,appears as Marfa Strogoff. The screenplay is faithful to the novel,including the famous scene of torture with the red-hot iron . Gallone's effort thoroughly deserved its success ;it was made for the whole family and can,from that point of view,be considered good Entertainment.

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UP TO HIS EARS (1965)-IN FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBS. Directed by Philippe De Broca. Living on a boat, Arthur Lempereur (Jean-Paul Belmondo) is a bored billionaire whose attempts at suicide always fail. In Hong Kong, his Chinese attorney, Mr. Goh (Valéry Inkijinoff, impeccable), helps secure the boy a few-day insurance policy that upon his death will bring to each of his two beneficiaries, his fiancée and Mr. Goh himself, a fortune. Since nothing would be paid on the policy in the event of suicide, Arthur agrees that Mr. Goh should arrange for his murder, to come as a surprise when the boy is least expecting it. But, anxious in the extreme, Arthur is now always expecting it and, besides, the fan dancer whose act he has caught, Alexandrine (Ursula Andress), has given him new cause to live. Arthur wants out of the death-arrangement, therefore, but Mr. Goh seems intent on getting his share of the fortune. Two suspicious men dogging Arthur turn out to be (inept) bodyguards paid by the insurance company to protect their most vulnerable client, but meanwhile the boy’s fiancée’s greedy parents are hiring people left and right to score a hit against him.

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ESPION LEVE-TOI (1982)-IN FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBS, LETTERBOXED PRINT. Director: Yves Boisset Stars: Lino Ventura, Michel Piccoli, Bruno Cremer. Sebastien Grenier is a successful French businessman, who has been living in Switserland for several years. He's married to a German professor of literature. But Grenier has a secret: he used to be a field agent for the French secret service SDECE. However, as the years went by, he certainly don't expect a wake up call any longer. He couldn't have been more wrong… Similarly as with CIA-agents, once SDECE, always SDECE… He's played by a somewhat grumpy, tired looking Lino Ventura. It all starts with a RAF style execution of a passenger in a tramway by a leftist terrorist group. From then on, Grenier gets caught in a whirlwind of events, leading to several other violent deaths. The "where's" and "when's" of these events are announced in a cool voice by a narrator. (Several other spy movies use a similar semi-documentary approach, others use a "telex"-message for the same purpose). The first victim is Henri Marchand, another SDECE-agent, played by Bernard Fresson. Many Americans will remember him as the French commissaire Barthélémy in French Connection II, with his funny clashes with "Popeye" Doyle (Gene Hackman). Grenier soon realizes that he might not live very long anymore. But who is the spider in the deadly web around him ? Is it the mysterious and cold "Richard", played by Bruno Cremer ?(of "Maigret"-fame). Or is it Jean-Paul Chance, a slick Swiss high official from the Justice Department, who seems to be extremely well informed by whatever Grenier is doing. (Chance is played by Michel Piccoli, who clearly enjoys irritating the Grenier-character). Who's systematically knocking out several pawns on the international chess game, and why ? In the end, the French former agent will manage to shed some light into some dark corners. What he doesn't realize is that the gun, pointed at his back is hidden in another shadowy corner. Or is he ?

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A FULL DAY'S WORK (1973)-IN FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBS, LETTERBOXED PRINT. What an amazing film directed by actor Jean-Louis Trintignant and featuring one of Bruno Nicolai's best scores! Director: Jean-Louis Trintignant. Writers: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Vincenzo Labella, Stars: Jacques Dufilho, Luce Marquand, Franco Pesce. Along a day, the baker Gaston (Jacques Dufilho) and his mother travel through France in his motorcycle with sidecar, killing nine people in different cities in very imaginative ways. Later, it is explained that these persons were the members of the jury who had condemned his son, the sailor who killed the master of his ship, to the death sentence. A FULL DAY'S WORK is an amazing dark comedy. The opening scene: the first victim is killed at a car wrecking lot with a violence and detachment reminiscent of a Tarantino movie.

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MIS A SAC (1967)-IN FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBS. Director: Alain Cavalier, Stars: Daniel Ivernel, Michel Constantin, Franco Interlenghi. Based on Richard Stark's Parker novel "The Score", this is a taut French crime movie reminiscent of Claude Sautet's early work, J.P.Melville or José Giovanni. Over the course of one night a gang of criminals carry out a raid on a small town, taking over the police station and the post office, and then systematically plunder the banks, department stores and payroll of the local factory. Edgar, the former accountant of the Martens factory, organizes a daring heist in Servage, a small town in the French Alps. His plan envisages neutralizing the police station, the fire station and the telephone switchboard during the night. When this is done, his men will be able to quietly hold up the bank, the post office safe, the payroll of the local factory and two or three department stores. To lead the commando, Edgar hires Georges, a professional gangster, eager to do a perfect job. The plan is brilliant but not everything will go according to it.

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A MAN TO KILL (1967)-IN FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBS, LETTERBOXED PRINT. Director: Philippe Condroyer, Stars: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Valérie Lagrange, Luis Prendes. Barcelona, 1967. Hans Fromm, a German-born architect, lives an well-ordered everyday life. He has become the target of an antifascist death squad though. Indeed their leader, Julius, whose brother was killed by Schmidt, a merciless S.S., believes, without being absolutely certain, that Fromm and Schmidt are the same man. The team, whose other members are Georges, the son of a deportee liquidated by Schmidt craving for action, Raphaël, a mercenary type, Nils, the photographer and Romain, watch Fromm's every move until Julius, convinced at last that the quiet German is their man, gives the green light for the operation. They manage to lure the former Nazi to an old house but Schmidt/Fromm won't let himself be captured so easily... This is an unique, highly interesting movie which reminds you of more famous titles like Antonioni's "Blow Up", Coppola's "The Conversation" or Polanski's "Death and the Maiden". And, believe me, it stands its ground among them.

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VICE AND VIRTUE (1962)-IN FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBS, LETTERBOXED PRINT. Been waiting for a long time to see this one subtitled! Director: Roger Vadim, Writers: Marquis de Sade (novel), Claude Choublier (adaptation)Stars: Annie Girardot, Catherine Deneuve, Robert Hossein. During the last year of the 2d world war, german officers keep young and pretty girls as prisoners in a French castle for their only sexual pleasure while the others are fighting. The movie is a parable about human passions as the 120 days in Sodoma from Alphonse Donatien de Sade. Anybody who has seen Pasolini's 'Salo' will realise that Pasolini owed a debt to Vadim as the similarities in certain sections of the film are perfectly obvious. The key scene in relation to 'Salo' is when the 'victims' enter the chateau and once they are in the chateau suffer the same sort of torments as in Pasolini's film. The basic difference between the two films is that despite the horrific subject matter Vadim retains a sense of romanticism which Pasolini rejected. It is a great pity this film is not more widely available on video as it is beautifully shot in scope with a delirious score that mixes Gotterdammerung with 'Les Parapluies de Cherbourg'! The acting, especially from Annie Girardot is exemplary. You can see why this actress gave a such a terrific performance recently in 'La Pianiste'. It was however one of Deneuve's first roles and like all her early films she was not at her best, but clearly decorative.

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BELPHAGOR PTS 1, 2, 3, 4 (1965)-IN FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBS. Stars: Juliette Gréco, René Dary, François Chaumette. Belphegor ou le fantôme du Louvre was developed for French TV in the mid-60's mixing what French are best at in my opinion: Slightly supernatural and crime. This mini-series gained a surprisingly success gathering 10 million viewers when broadcasted for the first time (France population at the time was about 46 millions). Later a young Lars von Trier used a part of the inspiration from Belphegór to his own horror-series “Riget”. That was the greatest French TV series of the sixties.Inspired by Louis Feuillade ,it's an extravaganza around the Louvres which effortlessly surpasses cheap enigmas à la "Da Vinci Code" .Special effects kept to the minimum,leaving the lion's share to the actors (particularly Juliette Greco and Madame Sylvie) ,mysterious and eventful ,it is an absorbing yarn. COMES ON 2 DVDS FOR $15.

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BONNOT'S GANG (1968)-IN FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBS, LETTERBOXED PRINT. Director: Philippe Fourastié, Stars: Jacques Brel, Bruno Cremer, Annie Girardot. A group of French anarchists are moved to violence when their leader Raymond (Jacques Brel) is captured. They take up with the notorious gangster Bonnot (Bruno Cremer) and the gang steals a car to use in a bank robbery. The non-violent anarchists soon turn to killing and murder the guards before escaping to Belgium. They hide out in a whorehouse until a conniving madame blows the whistle on them. The group splits up, but the anarchists soon realize they are helpless without the ringleader Bonnot. The local police chief arrests one of the gang, and the authorities soon close in on the rest of the gang. By now police have enlisted the help of the army to insure that none of the criminals will escape in this mobster movie set in the early days of the 20th century.

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THE DOGS (1979)-IN FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBS, LETTERBOXED PRINT. Director: Alain Jessua, Stars: Gérard Depardieu, Victor Lanoux, Nicole Calfan. After several inhabitants of a new city were bitten by dogs, a young doctor tries to stop to the climb of violence. There 's nothing supernatural in "les chiens" ,but Alain Jessua's treatment gives us the strange feeling we are sometimes watching a sci-fi, fantasy and horror movie. The atmosphere seems irrational, and even the "good" heroine turns into an almost disturbing character. She was the victim of a rape and she bought a dog to protect her. In the town, a lot of people do the same, in spite of the mayor's opposition. Depardieu portrays the owner of kennels where he trains the future dog-handlers (we've got to call them like this because it's not longer the nice little pets).A movie about insecurity, like all Alain Jessua's movies of the seventies ,it was too ahead of its time for its own good. At the end the movie ,the heroine has come full circle: she recognizes her rapist (or ,which is not the same, she thinks she recognizes him)and violence is about to break out again.

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TWO ARE GUILTY (1963)-IN FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBS, LETTERBOXED PRINT UNCUT 133 MINUTE VERSION!:Andre Cayatte. Stars: Anthony Perkins, Jean-Claude Brialy, and Pascale Audret. A boy is kidnapped and murdered on the French Riviera. The police, who had watched the delivery of the ransom to Two men gives chase once they determine that the boy is dead. The police never loses sight of the Two men who flee on a speedboat and run into an old lighthouse after landing. However, when the police surrounds the lighthouse, three men come out, each one claiming that he was there on a stroll and the following investigation can't determine who is lying..

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3 DAYS TO LIVE (1957)-IN FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBS. Director: Gilles Grangier, Stars: Daniel Gélin, Jeanne Moreau, Lino Ventura...Simon Belin is an actor touring the provinces with his company. Although talented he has never been given the opportunity to shine on stage. It is always Bérimont, a matinée idol past his best, who gets the lead roles. One day however, Simon is witness to a murder. Subjected to the pressure of justice, of his agent and of his own wish for publicity, he identifies a suspect, Ferrari, without being certain he is the real culprit. Singled out by his action he becomes the toast of the town. Overnight he replaces Bérimont as the star of the play. But Ferrari, who had been sentenced to twenty years in prison, escapes and threatens him ; from now on he has... three days to live.

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