Un homme est mort (1972)

OUTSIDE MAN, THE (Un Homme Est Mort)

(director/writer: Jacques Deray; screenwriters: Ian McLellan Hunter/Jean-Claude Carrière; cinematographers: Silvano Ippoliti/Terry K. Meade; editors: Henri Lanoë/William K. Chulack; cast: Jean-Louis Trintignant (Lucien Bellon), Angie Dickinson (Jackie Kovacs), Ann-Margret (Nancy), Roy Scheider (Lenny), Michael Constantine (Antoine), Umberto Orsini (Alex Kovacs), Ted de Corsia (Victor Kovacs), Carlo De Mejo (Karl), Georgia Engel (Jane Barnes), Eric (Jackie Earle Haley), Ed Greenberg (Jesus follower, hitchhiker); Runtime: 105; MGM/Cite Film -Te-Fi/ Valoria; 1973-France/USA)
“The story might be slight, but the acting by Trintignant is just right.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A French-American produced offbeat crime thriller set in Los Angeles, with English dialogue. Jean-Louis Trintignant is Lucien, a hit man from Paris who goes to Los Angeles to eliminate a wealthy crime boss, Victor Kovacs (Ted de Corsia). He does a thoroughly professional job, as he enters his Beverly Hills mansion posing as his foreign lawyer and executes him in the living room while his gorgeous wife Jackie (Angie Dickinson) and wormy son Alec (Orsini) were swimming in the pool. Alec now takes over as crime boss and also takes up with Jackie. They will give a misleading description of the hit man, when questioned by the police.

When Lucien returns to his hotel, he is baffled to learn that someone checked him out and stole his passport. When he tries to drive away, contract killer Lenny (Roy Scheider) tries to shoot him.

The story might be slight, but the acting by Trintignant is just right and the action scenes keep coming and are perfectly executed. Scheider also stands out in a supporting role.

With Lucien stuck in a foreign country and limited in his English, it is interesting to see how he tries to figure out what happened and how to get back to Paris. He carjacks a dumb housewife coming out of a shopping mall, Mrs Barnes (Georgia), and forces her to take him to her apartment where she cooks a meal for him and he calls his people in Paris who arranged the hit. Taking her car when he leaves to go downtown to a strip club he picks up a hitchhiker and is on his way to meet a contact who could help. Along the way there’s a shootout and Lucien’s hitchhiker, a Jesus freak, accidently gets killed.

Meeting his contact, Nancy (Ann-Margret), who features a plunging neckline exposing her best assets, Lucien learns that she hates the Kovac men because they put her out of the ownership end of the strip club business and reduced her to being a worker. She’s the ex-lover of his Paris connection Antoine (Constantine), and will reluctantly hook him up with cab driver Karl (Carlo De Mejo) to get him a phony passport. But, Lenny makes his stay in L.A. a difficult one, as he tries to get him a few more times. Their shootouts are what gives this film a life of its own, as they are well choreographed and take place in unusual spots (such as the one in Venice Beach). Nancy and Lucien stay together and form some kind of semi-romantic relationship but, unfortunately, there was no steam coming out of them. This flick is all about shootouts and quirky character portrayals, like the one of the housewife talking nonstop to the press about her ordeal and eating up the fact that she’s on TV.

The best shootout comes in the climax between Alec’s bodyguards and Lucien’s men, as it takes place by Victor’s bier. He’s in the chapel room embalmed in a sitting position on the funeral parlor’s throne while holding a cigar, as Lucien figures out that Alec is not an ethical crime boss and has double-crossed him. He now gets the last shot and laugh.