29 April 2021

Jacques Deray's Borsalino (1970)

I've no wish to go into the details of the plot of Borsalino, a name which incidentally relates to a brand of hat, and there are many hats in this crime film set in 1930 Marseille, but it could well be America, specifically Chicago, because for the French the American cinema (indeed, for many French people America itself) is a place of wonders. 

But this is the Marseille underworld, full of gangs, violence, easy money, and easy women. But the essential element here is that this is a screen encounter between two legends of French cinema: Alain Delon and Jean-Paul Belmondo: here known respectively as Roch Siffredi* and François Capella. The two men – originally enemies, become friends and eventually kings of the underworld in Marseille – but the main problem, of course, is that the town ain't big enough for the both of them: François chooses to leave, but in the end is killed in the attempt. Brilliant cinema this is perhaps not, although it is undeniably a showcase of two film greats. And Charles Bolling's music will haunt you for all time.

*The great porn star Rocco Siffredi (originally Rocco Tano) apparently took his screen name from Delon in Rocco et ses frères and (Roch) Siffredi in Borsalino and Borsalino & Co.

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