Without Apparent Motive

  • 1972
  • Movie
  • PG
  • Mystery

A deft thriller in the hardboiled tradition of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, this story of murderous revenge opens with Michel Bardinet, playing a wealthy Frenchman, being gunned down in broad daylight. Trintignant, the detective assigned to the case, can find no motive behind the slaying. Soon two others are killed in the same mysterious way....read more

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A deft thriller in the hardboiled tradition of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, this story of murderous revenge opens with Michel Bardinet, playing a wealthy Frenchman, being gunned down in broad daylight. Trintignant, the detective assigned to the case, can find no motive behind the

slaying. Soon two others are killed in the same mysterious way. Trintignant is convinced a link exists between the three deaths, yet he has nothing to go on. A slim thread of hope comes when Sanda, Bardinet's stepdaughter, gives the detective a pocket diary that had belonged to the dead man. The

diary contains, among other things, a list of Bardinet's lovers. One woman on this roll call is Gravina, a former passion of Trintignant's as well. Gravina meets the detective at his flat, hoping to rekindle their affair. After it's revealed that she had known all three of the murdered men,

Gravina leaves, disappointed this liaison was for business reasons rather than sex. Before Trintignant can catch up with her, a shot rings out, adding Gravina to the list of mysterious sniper killings.

Though the plot, adapted from a pulp novel by Ed McBain, clearly takes its cue from film noir, director Labro takes some interesting chances with his adaptation. Rather than use the classic darkened settings of a 1940s crime film, Labro shoots in the sun-drenched streets of the French Riviera city

of Nice. Despite the antithetical settings, the mood is just as dark here as in a good Humphrey Bogart crime story. Labro slowly builds up a feeling of impending doom, holding the mystery's solution until the very end and maintaining a consistent mood. The background music, a pulsating rhythm,

enhances the atmosphere. Labro also understands the essentials of creating a thriller, building suspense before letting out the short bursts of violence. As the lone detective, Trintignant also owes a great deal to Bogart. His performance, filled with suppressed emotion, shows the influence of his

cinematic forerunner but wisely avoids parodying him. A real surprise in the cast is Erich Segal, better known for his novel Love Story. In his cameo role the author shows a genuine flair for acting and handles his French dialogue with ease.

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  • Released: 1972
  • Rating: PG
  • Review: A deft thriller in the hardboiled tradition of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, this story of murderous revenge opens with Michel Bardinet, playing a wealthy Frenchman, being gunned down in broad daylight. Trintignant, the detective assigned to the c… (more)

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