The Body of My Enemy (Le corps de mon ennemi) (1976)

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Due Out for Sale 18-Nov-2009

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Crime None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1976
Running Time 116:21
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Henri Verneuil
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Jean-Paul Belmondo
Bernard Blier
Marie-France Pisier
Charles Gérard
Daniel Ivernel
Claude Brosset
Michel Beaune
François Perrot
René Lefèvre
Nicole Garcia
Case Amaray-Transparent-Dual
RPI ? Music Francis Lai


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Seven years after being imprisoned for a double murder he did not commit, Francois Leclercq (Jean-Paul Belmondo) returns to his textile manufacturing home town to look up old acquaintances and to exact revenge on those who had betrayed him. But there are still people in town who want Francois out, and are not opposed to violence to achieve it. Seven years before Francois, a boy from the working class, had romanced Gilberte Liegeard (Marie-France Pisier), only daughter of the town’s wealthy industrial baron, Jean-Baptiste Liegeard (Bernard Blier). In her company Francois started to move in wealthy circles with the Liegeard family and their political allies before Gilberte married into another wealthy family.

     Francois had used his connections to start a high class nightclub, where most things were available for a price. But when Francois refuses to allow the sale of drugs, two people are murdered in the club with Francois’ pistol and he is implicated by club manager Raphael Di Massa (Francois Perrot), found guilty and gaoled. Now, as Francois works his way through the old club employees and childhood friends in search of Di Massa, it seems that Gilberte may just hold one of the keys to the mystery.

     The Body of My Enemy (Le corps de mon ennemi) is directed by Henri Verneuil, who had worked previously with Belmondo in the excellent WW2 drama Weekend At Dunkirk. Just the year before The Body of My Enemy, 1975, they had also collaborated in the action classic Peur sur la ville, which includes some wonderful stunts, including one of Belmondo’s most famous: a sequence filmed on top of a speeding Metro train! In The Body of My Enemy, in contrast, Verneuil stripped away all the physical action, wanting to show Belmondo’s acting abilities.

     Indeed, The Body of My Enemy is primarily an intelligent, slow building mystery. There is a lot of dialogue as Francois visits various characters from his past in his attempts to piece together both the identity of the real murderer and the reason behind it. In this more character driven role, Belmondo acquits himself well and he is supported by a strong cast of believable, if oddball characters, in small roles including Claude Brosset as the ex-bouncer who has found a new occupation, Nicole Garcia as the ex-club girl and Michel Beaune as Francois’ childhood friend. But this is clearly Belmondo’s film and in essentially two roles (past life and present) he is never off screen.

     There are other pluses. The film’s backstory is told in a series of flashbacks, which are not chronological, juxtaposed with Francois’ present search. This could be confusing, especially as Belmondo has deliberately not been aged so looks the same in both time periods (the film itself explains that this is him remembering the past, and that he sees himself looking the same as he is now), but director Verneuil has a firm grip on the narrative so it is never an issue. The film also looks great, and indeed the town of Lille, where the film was shot, with its run down streets and factories on the cityscape looks perfect for the search of Francois into his past.

     The Body of My Enemy is an intelligent mystery that eschews the stunts of many Belmondo films in favour of something more compelling. Belmondo acquits himself well and is supported by a strong cast of believable, if oddball, characters. The flashback structure of the film is well handled by director Henri Verneuil and the film looks great.

     The Body of My Enemy is included in the three disc set French Screen Icons: Jean-Paul Belmondo 2 from Madman that also includes The Inheritor (1973) and Scoumoune: Mafia Warfare (1972).

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The Body of My Enemy is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.66:1, the original theatrical ratio, and is 16x9 enhanced.

     The print looks pretty good although detail can be slightly soft sometimes. Colours are natural but muted, in keeping with the drab industrial setting of the “present” story, while in “remembered” story colours are much brighter, especially in the night club. Skin tones are good. Blacks are also good and shadow detail acceptable. Brightness occasionally varies, and there is evidence of some minor edge-enhancement but there are no obvious artefacts.

     English subtitles are available in a smallish yellow font. In a film with a lot of dialogue, the subtitles sometimes flashed by too quickly to read completely. There is therefore some important information that can be lost. Unusually, the subtitles also translate a lot of the opening credit sequence, plus many shop and other signs.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The audio is a French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono at 224 Kbps.

     Dialogue is easy to understand. This is a film of mostly dialogue with few additional effects, although the music in the strip sequence in the club comes across nicely. Basically, the audio does the job required. There was no surround or subwoofer use.

     The score, by prolific composer Francis Lai (A Man and a Woman (1966)), was unmistakably a French score. It was not intrusive and gave good support to the film.

     Lip synchronisation was poor fine.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     None

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     There does not appear to be another English friendly release of The Body of My Enemy in Region 1 US or Region 2 UK. The only other versions of the film I can find are a couple of Region 2 French / European releases that have French language audio but list no English subtitles. Our Region 4 is the one for English speakers.

     I cannot find an equivalent Belmondo collection listed on sales sites. The only thing close is a Region 2 UK collection that includes Breathless, Pierrot Le Fou, Le Professional, Stavisky and A Double Tour.

Summary

     The Body of My Enemy is an intelligent mystery that eschews the stunts of many Belmondo films in favour of something more compelling. Belmondo acquits himself well and is supported by a strong cast of believable, if oddball characters. The flashback structure of the film is well handled by director Henri Verneuil and the film looks great. Intriguing and well worth a look.

     The video and audio are fine. There are no extras but the film is presented in a box set with two other films, which is great value for fans of Belmondo or French cinema.

     The Body of My Enemy is included in the three disc set French Screen Icons: Jean-Paul Belmondo 2 from Madman that also includes The Inheritor (1973) and Scoumoune: Mafia Warfare (1972).

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Thursday, February 09, 2012
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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