Borsalino (Limited Edition) – Blu-ray Review

4.5 Stars Belmondo/Delon gangster film debuts on Blu
Borsalino review

Let’s take a look at Borsalino. Though his work and career largely fell outside the French New Wave movement of the era, director Jacques Deray made his name in the crime and thriller genre. Though he made his debut with Le Gigolo in 1960, Deray truly made a name for himself with La Piscine (1969), a psychological thriller; the next year, Deray would achieve international recognition for Borsalino, which reunited the director with past collaborators Alain Delon and Jean-Paul Belmondo. Arrow Video has licensed the film from Paramount Pictures for its Blu-ray debut.

Borsalino (1970)
Released: 13 Aug 1970
Rated: R
Runtime: 125 min
Director: Jacques Deray
Genre: Crime, Drama
Cast: Jean-Paul Belmondo, Alain Delon, Catherine Rouvel
Writer(s): Jean-Claude Carrière, Jean Cau, Jacques Deray
Plot: During the 1930s, in Marseilles, France, two small time crooks work for local crime bosses until they decide to go into business for themselves.
IMDB rating: 6.9
MetaScore: N/A

Disc Information
Studio: Paramount
Distributed By: Arrow Video
Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
Audio: English PCM 1.0 (Mono), French 1.0 PCM (Mono)
Subtitles: English SDH
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 2 Hr. 4 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, Other
Case Type: Clear keep case with reversible cover and slipcover
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Region: A
Release Date: 09/05/2023
MSRP: $39.99

The Production: 4/5

In the Marseille underworld of 1930, small time gangster Roch Siffredi (Alain Delon) has just been released from prison and goes looking for his girlfriend Lola (Catherine Rouvet). When he finds her in the company of fellow gangster François Capella (Jean-Paul Belmondo), the two engage in a brief fistfight; however, instead of becoming rivals at each other’s throats all the time, the two decide to join forces and work together on several schemes that soon see them rise in the Marseille underworld. However, they also come to lock horns with the two most powerful crime bosses in Marseille – Marello (Arnoldo Foà) and Poli (André Bollet) – and very soon, the bullets begin to fly, and blood will be spilled. If they manage to unseat the two bosses, will Siffredi and Capella live long enough to enjoy the spoils of their criminal partnership?

Hearkening back to the Warner Bros. gangster pictures of the 1930’s, Borsalino is a fun-filled nostalgia crime picture. Loosely basing it off of the exploits of real life gangsters Paul Carbone and François Spirito in Marseille during the time period the film depicts, director Jacques Deray – who co-wrote the script with three additional writers, including Jean-Claude Carrière – creates an intoxicating story of two small timers making their way to the stop by any means necessary. Deray clearly has a knack for the old school gangster picture style, and he has the talents of cinematographer Jean-Jacques Tarbès, art director François de Lamothe, costume designer Jacques Fonteray and composer Claude Bolling to bring the 1930’s Marseille underworld to life. While the film itself doesn’t offer up any insights into the French crime underworld of the era, the movie largely works due to the charisma and charm of its two leading men. In the end, Borsalino – also the name of a luxury Italian hat company whose wares are prominently featured in the film – is a fun and engaging nostalgia piece that anticipated the coming of future nostalgia crime pics like The Godfather (1972; which Paramount would truly cash in on) and The Sting (1973); in other words, it’s a crime pic that’s been overlooked here in the states over the years but absolutely worth discovering.

In addition to playing the cool Roch – which is one of his finest performances – Alain Delon also produced the movie; he would return to portray Siffredi in the sequel, Borsalino and Co. (1974). As the rough around the edges but no less charming Capella, Jean-Paul Belmondo has an equally engaging and fun performance here as well; although Belmondo and Delon butted heads following production over billing – which eventually had to be settled in court – they would reunite years later with an appearance together in Patrice Leconte’s Half a Chance (1998). As Lola, the woman who is the initial cause of friction between Siffredi and Capella – Catherine Rouvet brings glamour to the part; like Delon, she would return to reprise her role in the sequel. The three leads here form the film’s heart and soul, but mention should be given to supporting players Michel Bouquet, Laura Adani, Arnoldo Foà, Corinne Marchand, Francoise Christophe, Mario David, André Bollet, Helene Remy and Christian de Tilliere for their contributions as well.

Video: 5/5

3D Rating: NA

The film is presented in its original 1:66:1 aspect ratio, taken from a HD transfer provided by Paramount Pictures. Film grain, fine details and color palette appear to be faithfully represented with only minor cases of scratches, dirt and tears present on the transfer. Overall, this Blu-ray release is likely to be the best the movie will ever look on home video.

Audio: 5/5

Both the original French mono and English dub mono soundtracks are presented on PCM track for this release. Dialogue, sound mix and Claude Bolling’s jaunty music score on both tracks are presented faithfully with minimal cases of distortion, crackling, popping or hissing present. Overall, this Blu-ray release is likely the best the movie will ever sound on home video.

Special Features: 4/5

Commentary by film scholar Josh Nelson – Recorded for this release, Nelson talks about the film’s production, the rivalry between Alain Delon and Jean-Paul Belmondo and the real life French gangsters who inspired the movie.

The Music of Borsalino (11:32) – Composer and film historian Neil Brand looks at the music that Claude Bolling composed for the movie in this new interview.

Dressing Down (10:51) – Film scholar Elizabeth Castaldo Lundén examines the work of costume designer Jacques Fonteray on this film in this new interview.

Le Magnifique Belmondo (13:01) – A 2019 episode of the French web series Steroids looks at – and salutes – the career of Jean-Paul Belmondo.

Image Gallery (34 stills)

Theatrical Trailer (1:18)

6 reproduction artwork postcards 

Double sided fold out poster containing the original theatrical poster and new artwork created by Tony Stella

Booklet feat. essays by film scholar Ginette Vincendeau and curator Elisa Fulco

Overall: 4.5/5

While it didn’t make much of an impression on American critics and audiences – despite the fact it was a big hit in France – Borsalino is still a fun little throwback to the 1930’s gangster movies that works due to its two leading men. Arrow Video has likely delivered the best presentation of the movie on home video, with a terrific HD transfer and a solid slate of bonus features. Very highly recommended.

Mychal has been on the Home Theater Forum’s reviewing staff since 2018, with reviews numbering close to 300. During this time, he has also been working as an assistant manager at The Cotton Patch – his family’s fabric and quilting supplies business in Keizer, Oregon. When not working at reviewing movies or working at the family business, he enjoys exploring the Oregon Coast, playing video games and watching baseball in addition to his expansive collection of movies on DVD, Blu-ray and UHD, totalling over 3,000 movies.

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Robin9

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Robin
Thanks for the review. I've been waiting for this movie to be released on disc for a long time.
 

Indy Guy

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Tony Baxter
Thank you for this review! The film was a new discovery for me and maybe this will help it be discovered by others. If you like The Sting or Butch Cassidy you should enjoy this similar film with a French twist. It was released between the 2 American "buddy" films and definitely influenced The Sting which followed 3 years later.
 

roxy1927

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vincent parisi
I saw this film by the time it had made its way to the Jersey suburbs in the early 70s. The theater was full and this was before it was turned into a quad so I had thought the film was a success here.
 
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