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Paris never looked more romantic than in this fractured, amoral tale of a Bogart-obsessed fantasist who shoots a cop and takes up with an old flame
Godard's explosive directorial feature debut sees Michel (Belmondo) as a movie-loving hood on the way to pick up some money. After he kills a troublesome cop, Michel tracks down an old girlfriend, Patricia (Seberg), in Paris and the two briefly rekindle their doomed affair.
The film launched the New Wave of young French directors - Godard's fellow critics from the influential film magazine 'Cahiers du Cinéma' were involved in the production, Truffaut devising the story, Chabrol serving as artistic and technical adviser. And it's a film in love with movies themselves. Michel is an amoral chancer who consciously styles himself after Bogart, while the film itself is in part a homage to Hollywood film noir, making a particular nod to Joseph H Lewis's seminal love-on-the-run movie Gun Crazy.
Godard the novice is already toying with narrative convention, making telling use of, among other techniques, the jump-cut. He also allows himself a cameo appearance in the film, turning up towards the end of the action as an informant whose appearance hastens Michel's fate.
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As his career progressed, Godard's films became more mature and accomplished, but rarely, if ever, did they pack such an immediate, visceral punch.
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