Crap. Like one of those bloviating Stanley Kramer pics that shams importance via subject matter. Here, writer/director José Giovanni, with a nod toward LES MISÉRABLES, takes on capital-punishment with Alain Delon as a Jean Valjean figure, an ex-bank robber trying to go straight in the face of hard-luck tragedies; a Javert-like police chief who has all the time in the world to hound his reformed bête noire; and an aging, nearly inert Jean Gabin to offer sage advise as some sort of ill-defined prison official. (Presumably meant to recall Victor Hugo, Gabin’s more like Spencer Tracy in his late Kramer period.) Painfully bad as this is, it pales next to Giovanni’s all-thumbs megging, with a needlessly active camera that, if it hasn’t found the wrong placement by the start of a shot, does so by its finish. (You get a physical jolt when he occasionally hits le set-up juste.) Delon, to his shame, produced this vanity piece which shows either specific bad judgement or a sad general decline in movie-making standards in France at the time. Probably both.
SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: How does Delon’s character afford all those beautifully tailored suits?
WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: Desperate for a DEUS HOMMES flick? Try Jean-Pierre Melville’s noirish DEUX HOMMES DANS MANHATTAN/’59. Minor Melville, but still Melville.