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Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Outside Man (1972)

A French assassin (Jean Louis Trintignant) is imported to Los Angeles to make a hit on a wealthy businessman (Ted De Corsia) with ties to the mob. But after he carries out the hit, suddenly he finds himself hunted by another mysterious hit man (Roy Scheider) while the businessman's widow (Angie Dickinson) gives the police a description of her husband's murderer that is the opposite of Trintignant. Directed by Jacques Deray (BORSALINO) who co-wrote the screenplay with Jean Claude Carriere (DISCREET CHARM OF THE BOURGEOISIE), the film could well have been entitled A FRENCHMAN IN L.A.. Trintignant's professional assassin finds himself adrift in a foreign landscape with an unfamiliar culture and terrain. Deray covers L.A. from the Beverly Hills mansions to the seedy downtown L.A. to the Venice beaches, plush valet parking department stores for wealthy wives to strip clubs and imbues them an unsettling alien aura. Unfortunately, the film begins to fall apart at the very end but Deray's downbeat noir ending is uncompromised. The obtrusive score is by Michel Legrand. With Ann-Margret doing her bruised vulnerability act as Trintignant's L.A. contact, Jackie Earle Haley, Umberto Orsini, Alex Rocco, Ben Piazza, John Hillerman and in a rare dramatic role, Georgia Engel (THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW).

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