SWANN IN LOVE (Volker Schlöndorff, 1984)

“Life is like an artist’s studio: full of half-finished sketches. We sacrifice everything to fantasies that vanish, one after the other.” The elephant in whatever room that Charles Swann imperiously walks into in late nineteenth-century Paris is the known fact that he is Jewish. He doesn’t belong in its elite ranks, but how can society […]

CREEZY (Pierre Granier-Deferre, 1974)

The recent rash of extramarital scandals in the lives of U.S. political figures and elected officials adds interest to La race des “seigneurs,” which Pascal Jardin and Pierre Granier-Deferre, the film’s director, adapted from Félicien Marceau’s novel Creezy. Alain Delon is Julien Dandieu, the married political leader who is having an affair with a popular […]

FLIC STORY (Jacques Deray, 1975)

Although the source material, Roger Borniche’s autobiography, imposes on Jacques Deray’s film an idealization of Borniche and his marriage, and simplifies Emile Buisson’s motivation for mayhem, Flic Story constitutes riveting, exciting, intermittently terrifying, almost consistently brilliant entertainment. It fully conveys, rather than glosses over, the horror of criminal violence, and does no less for police […]

SPIRITS OF THE DEAD (Federico Fellini, Louis Malle, Roger Vadim, 1968) and POE’S “THE MAN OF THE CROWD”

Like Odilon Redon, I see Edgar Allan Poe in terms of black and white and gray. (Let me add, however, that the way that the French see “their” Edgarpoe, as a poète maudit, morbid and accursed, seems to me bewilderingly wide of the mark.) From France and Italy, Histoires extraordinaires is in color, though; comprising […]


Despite its reputation for being god-awful,* The Assassination of Trotsky is one of Joseph Losey’s moodiest, most powerful films. Trotsky’s assassin, Ramón Mercader, here rechristened Frank Jacson (Alain Delon, excellent), and not Trotsky, is the central character. Internet critic Fernando F. Croce has drawn the main contrast between Jacson and Trotsky, saying that Jacson is […]