One of the many faces of nouvelle vague and considered the french James Dean, Alain Delon made his name through the history of cinema among great directors such as Michelangelo Antonioni, Jean-Pierre Melville and Luchino Visconti. Considered one of my favourite actors ever, I decided to make a list of 10 great performances of his 10 best films after watching another of his many works. Here they are!
Le Samourai (1967) by Jean-Pierre Melville
Alain Delon’s most notorious film is probably the best of his career. His amazing performance is not only brilliant but the persona he creates on this modern neo noir made him an international sex symbol and even ended up being the name of a fragrance. The concept of the true gentlemen was retransformed with Le Samourai, and Jean-Pierre Melville helps by creating an extremely sophisticated film with minimalistic elements, almost no dialogue, an amazing cinematography and the use of jazz as the soundtrack. Nothing gets cooler than Alain Delon in Le Samourai.
Purple Noon (1960) by René Clément
Mentioned several times in the blog, Purple Noon is probably my favourite Alain Delon film. Despite the movie being amazing as it is, Delon’s performance is beautiful and quiet interesting by playing Tom Ripley, a man of many faces that ends up stealing someone’s personality and has to deal with its consequences, specially after a horrible event. A very poetic and beautiful movie about a sociopath and Alain Delon’s performance won’t allow your eyes to turn off from the screen.
Rocco and His Brothers (1960) by Luchino Visconti
Delon plays one of the five brothers of a troubled family in this Luchino Visconti masterpiece that talks about a rural family who tries their luck in the big city of Milan. Probably one of the most touching roles of his career, Delon’s character goes from the young kid who doesn’t fit to the man who ends up saving his own family by giving up his dreams. A very different role comparing to the other ones, considering he would later take parts as mostly as a hit man, a gambler or a lover. No matter what, Delon’s performance is definitely one of the many things that makes Rocco and His Brothers an outstanding movie.
La Prima Notte Di Quiete (1972) by Valerio Zurlini
Delon was ten years older from nouvelle vague when he did this film, but his face with a badly shaved beard was exactly the essence of Delon’s character in Zurlini’s film, a movie that celebrates the sadness and loss in life through small moments of joy and love. As his character in the movie says, if it weren’t for the lack of liberty, we wouldn’t have good moments in life. And that’s exactly what the story of this movie is about. A very melancholic film in his career, but definitely one of his best performances.
The Red Circle (1970) by Jean-Pierre Melville
After the extreme success with Le Samourai, of course Jean-Pierre Melville and Alain Delon would make several movies together again. The Red Circle is another great film that came out from the duo, where Delon plays a criminal who just got out of prison and ends up being part of another scam without planning. I would dare to say the film is even more challenging than Le Samourai, but with a different effect by portraying a different story with a more complicated plot. Which doesn’t mean the film is not brilliant, or even less that Alain Delon is not good in it.
La Piscine (1969) by Jacques Deray
If there is anything more sexy than opening a movie with a half naked Alain Delon bathing in the sun with Ray Bans, tell me about it, because that’s exactly how La Piscine starts, a movie about bodies, gaze and sexual tension. Married with a beautiful woman and living in an amazing house, Alan Delon’s character is troubled with the visit of a friend of theirs and his daughter, who is played by no one else but Jane Birkin. Their visit creates a tension among the couple, resulting in a very edgy film with a surprise ending. If the plot sounds a little familiar to you, the film just got a remake called A Bigger Splash with Tilda Swinton and Matthias Schoenaerts, that is also very good!
L’Eclisse (1962) by Michelangelo Antonioni
I must admit if it wasn’t for Alan Delon, Monica Vitti and Gianni Di Venanzo’s amazing cinematography, L’Eclisse would be unwatchable. This may sound very harsh coming from a cinephile, specially when we talk about such an amazing director as Antonioni, but for trying to make a movie about bored people, Antonioni made a very boring film. Which explains why it’s so important for Delon’s career and why it’s such an important movie itself. Concluding the trilogy of the communicability with this film, L’Eclisse tells the story of two broken people who doesn’t know how to communicate with one another. And even though it’s a very hard watching film, Delon and Vitti performances is what makes L’Eclisse so hypnotizing.
Joy House (1964) by René Clément
Another partnership with Clément after his success in Purple Noon, Joy House is a very Hitchcock-like movie. Playing a playboy who had an affair with the wife of a gangster, he is wanted by the gangster and seeks help with two woman he finds in a church. The women decides to keep him in their house by giving him a job as a driver, but the more time he spends in their house, the more he suspect that something is up. With a great script, very nice action scenes and a surprise ending, Joy House is a remarkable movie in Alain Delon’s career.
The Girl on a Motorcycle (1968) by Jack Cardiff
Even though the movie it’s terribly shot, Jack Cardiff’s mise en scene has a lot of semiotics and symbology, making The Girl on a Motorcycle a movie at least very interesting to watch. After having an erotic dream with an ex lover, played by Alain Delon, the girl Rebecca decides to drive on her motorcycle to meet with him. Wearing only a leather suit and nothing else, the whole film is a sexual dream-like tale with several interesting twists. Delon itself doesn’t appear much on the film, but his sexual content it’s exactly what drives the film forward, as the girl character drives her motorcycle to her destiny. Some scenes from the movie are just brilliant!
The Leopard (1963) by Luchino Visconti
And for last but not least, Alain Delon in Luchino Visconti’s The Leopard, where he plays the nephew of a princess during unification of Italy in 1860. I must admit it’s been a while since I watched this film and I don’t really remember what happens, so I must watch it again. I do remember it’s a very striking film, specially on the visuals and art directing. It’s one of the most important films ever made, so Delon’s part is at least extremely important in his career.