Abel Davos (Ventura) is a wanted gangster on the lam in Italy. With the police closing in, he decides to cross back into France with his accomplice Naldi (Krol), wife Therese (France) and two young sons. After a tragic encounter with border patrol officers, Davos turns to former Paris associates Fargier (Cerval) and Riton (Ardan) for help, but his old pals don't want to get their hands dirty. Instead, they bring in a young gun for hire, ex-boxer Eric Stark (Belmondo) to bring Davos and his children up from Nice. This infuriates the aging fugitive, creating an atmosphere of distrust and resentment that leads to explosive confrontation.
Why we love it
Sautet's second feature (released just weeks after Godard's "Breathless") was initially a box-office failure, but has since climbed the ranks of France's noir canon. Ventura's world-weary face alternately expresses desperation and resignation that the days of honor among thieves are over. Belmondo's Stark is his perfect counterbalance; a modern hoodlum who clearly trusts and depends on no one. The film's early, tense scenes of crime and escape give way to a mood both wary and wistful, as Davos gradually comes to terms with the reality that he's nearing the end of the trail. Don't risk missing out on this unsung thriller!