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Jacques Deray
Jean-Paul Belmondo, Alain Delon, Catherin Rouvel
Writing Credits:
Jean-Claude Carrière, Jean Cau, Jacques Deray, Claude Sautet

During the 1930s in Marseilles, France, two small time crooks work for local crime bosses until they decide to go into business for themselves.

Rated R.


Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
French LPCM Monaural
English LPCM Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 124 min.
Price: $39.95
Release Date: 9/5/23

• Audio Commentary with Film Scholar Josh Nelson
• “Dressing Down” Featurette
• “The Music of Borsalino” Featurette
• “Le Magnifique Belmondo” Featurette
• Trailer
• Image Gallery
• Art Card Reproductions
• Poster
• Booklet


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Borsalino [Blu-Ray] (1970)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 27, 2023)

Gangster films tend feel like a particularly American concept. Of course, other countries took on the genre as well, with 1970’s Borsalino as an example.

In Marseilles circa 1930, small-time crook Roch Sifreddi (Alain Delon) emerges from prison. When he and fellow hood François Capella (Jean-Paul Belmondo) meet, they fight over a woman named Lola (Catherine Rouvel).

However, Roch and François soon realize they can help out each other so they enter into a criminal partnership. They decide to go into business for themselves, a choice that leads to a variety of complications.

The publicity materials for this Blu-ray of Borsalino compare it to 1973’s Oscar-winning The Sting, and those connections fit. I don’t know for a fact that Borsalino influenced The Sting, but I find it tough to imagine it didn’t.

From the Depression-era setting to the jaunty ragtime score to the pairing of two major screen stars to a fairly light comedic vibe at times, similarities abound. These don’t make The Sting a ripoff, but they do mean the pair come as peas/pod.

In this case, I think The Sting stands as the stronger film. While Borsalino comes with some pleasures, it also suffers from flaws the 1973 film lacks.

On the positive side, the match-up of Delon and Belmondo fares well. They show good chemistry and bounce off each other in a peppy manner that adds spark to the movie.

On the semi-negative side… well, everything else. Not that I find Borsalino to offer a poor film, but it doesn’t quite click like I would hope it would.

Some of this stems from the less than purposeful plot. While The Sting benefited from its concentration on the schemes the leads ran, Borsalino seems less focused.

As such, the narrative ambles about without a lot of clarity. While it follows the attempts of its main characters to earn success as gangsters, it fails to bring real development and thrust to this theme.

This means the movie tends to sputter more often than I’d like, and it can seems awfully aimless. The story just doesn’t engage in a clear enough path to really connect with the viewer.

Borsalino comes with somewhat flat direction, as Jacques Deray can’t give us a tale with punch. As noted, the movie can ramble and struggle to find a lot of real thrust, and Deray’s lackadaisical style doesn’t help.

I do think Borsalino starts well, as its first act creates an intriguing setup. With two contrasting leads and a mix of potentially viable narrative threads, the film seems packed with potential.

However, it starts to sag before too long and fails to really connect the rest of the way. The charms of its leads help make it watchable, but it nonetheless disappoints.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus B-

Borsalino appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.66:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Across the board, the transfer looked good.

No substantial issues with sharpness emerged. A few wider elements showed some minor softness, but those instances stayed minor.

No signs of jagged edges or shimmering materialized, and no edge enhancement was apparent. Source flaws remained absent, as I noticed no specks, marks or debris.

As befit the period setting, colors looked low-key. They were always as full as the cinematography demanded, though, and they appeared solid. The occasional brighter hues seemed vivid and rich within the normally subdued confines.

Blacks were dark and full, while shadows usually came across well. This was a consistently strong image.

As for the French LPCM monaural soundtrack of Borsalino, it was perfectly positive for its era. Speech sounded intelligible and clear, without significant edginess.

The movie offered a jaunty ragtime score, and these elements came across reasonably well. While the music lacked great range, it seemed clear enough.

The effects represented the source elements in a competent manner. These elements offered reasonable accuracy with passable great punch. All of this was good enough for a “B-“.

A few extras appear, and we open with an audio commentary from film scholar Josh Nelson. He provides a running, screen-specific look at the history behind the movie’s events, story/characters, cast and crew, cinematic techniques, themes and interpretation, the flick’s reception and various production notes.

With a broad mix of topics under his purview, Nelson delivers a strong discussion of the film. He covers a lot of ground and makes this a highly informative chat.

Dressing Down goes for 10 minutes, 51 seconds. It provides notes from film historian Elizabeth Castaldo Lundén.

The program focuses on costume design and period details. She delivers a good mix of insights.

Next comes The Music of Borsalino. It runs 11 minutes, 32 seconds and brings info from film historian Neil Brand.

As one might expect, Brand covers the movie’s score. He also gets into other aspects of the film and makes this a tight little reel.

An archival piece, Le Magnifique Belmondo goes for 13 minutes, one second. It offers a career overview for actor Jean-Paul Belmondo with a heavy layer of praise for the star.

We get a good compilation of movie clips and a few decent notes, especially when we see Belmondo’s Jackie Chan-like willingness to do his own stunts. Still, the happy happy tone makes this a less than objective and coherent view of its subject.

Like the title implies, this featurette looks at actor Jean-Paul Belmondo.

Along with the film’s trailer, we find an Image Gallery. It shows 34 elements that mix shots from the movie and ads. It becomes a mediocre compilation.

In addition to these disc-based materials, the set includes six artcard reproductions, a booklet and a fold-out poster. My discs-only copy lacked these materials, but I wanted to mention them.

Thanks to the charms of its legendary lead actors, Borsalino remains a perfectly watchable gangster tale. However, it lacks real purpose and sputters too much as it goes to become a real pleasure. The Blu-ray boasts positive picture, appropriate audio and a mix of bonus marerials. Borsalino turns into a decent flick but not one that lives up to its potential.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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