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Film / La Scoumoune

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La Scoumoune (English language title The Pariah) is a 1972 French-Italian gangster film directed and written by José Giovanni, based on his own novel L'Excommunié. It is a remake of the 1961 film Un nommé La Rocca and stars Jean-Paul Belmondo (who played the same role in the 1961 film), Claudia Cardinale, Michel Constantin and Enrique Lucero. François de Roubaix composed the soundtrack, which notably includes a barrel organ leitmotif.

In 1934, mobster Roberto Borgo (Belmondo), also known as "La Scoumoune", comes to the port city of Marseille, Southern France, to help his friend Xavier Saratov (Constantin), who was framed by the local crime bosses. Roberto is caught up in clashes between different gangs and as a result serves a long sentence in prison for killing several enemy gang members. After a few years, he manages to escape and seeks revenge.

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La Scoumoune provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Adaptation Name Change:
    • The surname of Roberto is La Rocca in the original novel and the 1961 film, while here it's Borgo.
    • Likewise, the surname of the Saratov siblings is Adé in the novel and the 1961 film.
  • Adaptation Title Change: The novel the film adapts is titled L'Excommunié ("The Excommunicated").
  • Boom, Headshot!: How Roberto kills Villanova.
  • Disposing of a Body: Roberto throws Villanova's body down a mine's ventilation shaft after killing him, then states that hiding a body can earn one 20 years minimum in prison.
  • Don't Look Back: In prison, Xavier tells his sister Georgia to not lose her time trying to get him out via his lawyer and connections and to not come back to see him. She refuses.
  • Freudian Excuse: When talking to Xavier's lawyer about the latter's criminal past, Georgia argues that his difficult youth can be brought up in court to his defense.
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  • The Gunslinger: Roberto is unmatched at Quick Draw, and he's quite the Cold Sniper with a revolver.
  • Organ Grinder: Migli aka "The Mexican", the mustachioed accomplice of Roberto who's sometimes seen playing the film's theme on his portable barrel organ. He was played by Mexican actor Enrique Lucero.
  • Red Baron: Roberto's nickname is "La Scoumoune", because he brings bad luck to his enemies since he's a master at Quick Draw ("scoumoune" was an old Southern French slang word for "bad luck").
  • The Remake: The film is actually a remake of the 1961 Jean Becker film Un nommé La Rocca, which already adapted José Giovanni's L'Excommunié. Despite the fact Giovanni also wrote that 1961 film, he wasn't satisfied with it and decided to re-adapt it to the screen himself.
  • The Teaser: The film starts with a scene in which Roberto waits for a mob killer who's disguised as a priest to come out of a church and kills him in a lightning fast Quick Draw. Then Migli shows up nearby and starts to play his barrel organ. Roberto gets closer to him, the camera focuses on Roberto's eye and the opening credits start.
  • Title Sequence: The opening credits consist of Migli walking towards the viewer playing his barrel organ with the film's leitmotif with the One-Eyed Shot on Roberto's eye in the background.

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