An Alain Delon festival

Today, TCM will be showing a series of movies starring Alain Delon, the French film star. I can recommend two of them — Rocco and His Brothers (1960) and Le Samouraï (1967). I don’t believe I’ve seen the other movies.

Rocco and His Brothers is an Italian epic about a family from Southern Italy trying to survive in post-war Milan. Directed by Luchino Visconti, it runs more than three hours, but managed to keep me riveted throughout. Annie Girardot delivers an outstanding performance. She and her future husband Renato Salvatori steal the movie from young Delon. The beautiful Claudia Cardinale also features.

Le Samouraï couldn’t differ more from Rocco and His Brothers. It’s a sparse, taut, atmospheric crime film by the master of the genre, Jean-Pierre Melville, one of my favorite directors.

The film is quintessentially Melville and quintessentially Delon. I think it’s also quintessentially French, despite some criticism to the contrary based, perhaps, on the homage it pays to American films, especially This Gun for Hire.

No one was going to steal this movie from Delon, but the two female leads — Nathalie Delon (the star’s wife at the time) and Cathy Rosier — make an impression.

Rocco and His Brothers is scheduled to air at 8:00 Eastern Time. Le Samouraï will follow when Visconti’s film ends sometime between 11:00 and 11:30.