Big question: Jean-Pierre Melville's take on the French resistance during WWII was made in 1969 but not released in the U.S. until now. Was it brought here on foot?
Catch it: "Army of Shadows" is a morally ambiguous look at the necessity, the perversity and, sometimes, the generosity of death during wartime. A powerfully subdued execution scene is proof that for Philippe (Lino Ventura) and his cohorts, personal loyalty is conditional to the cause and politics are a badge that is never removed.
Skip it: If seeing men commit suicide by taking a pill will make you wary of your morning vitamin.
Bottom line: These activists' lives hinge on scrambled, desperate strategy and narrow escapes as Melville expertly demonstrates that rebellion is rarely clean or methodical. With patience and emotion that catches you off-guard, "Army of Shadows" is a story of the strength and determination needed in a resistance, especially one you know is futile.
Bonus: Scared to go skydiving? Watching Philippe--a guy that looks like your family's accountant--plummet from the sky might make you think you can do it too.
'Army of Shadows'
Directed and written by Jean-Pierre Melville; based on the novel by Joseph Kessel; photographed by Pierre Lhomme; edited by Francoise Bonnot; art direction by Theobald Meurisse; music by Eric de Marsan; produced by Jacques Dorfmann. In French, with English subtitles. A Rialto Pictures release; opens Friday at the Music Box Theatre. Running time: 2:20. No MPAA rating. Adult. Parents cautioned for violence and discussions of sexual themes.
Philippe Gerbier - Lino Ventura
Mathilde - Simone Signoret
Luc Jardie - Paul Meurisse
Francois - Jean-Pierre Cassel
Le Masque - Claude Mann
The barber - Serge Reggiani
Felix - Paul Crauchet
"Colonel Passy" - Himself (Andre Dewavrin)Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times