Borsalino (film)

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French film poster for Borsalino
Directed byJacques Deray
Produced byAlain Delon
Henri Michaud
Written byJean-Claude Carrière
Jean Cau
Jacques Deray
Claude Sautet
Based on"The Bandits of Marseilles" by Eugene Saccomano
StarringJean-Paul Belmondo
Alain Delon
Music byClaude Bolling
CinematographyJean-Jacques Tarbès
Edited byPaul Cayatte
Adel Productions
Marianne Productions
Mars Film Produzione
Distributed byParamount (US distribution only)
Release date
20 May 1970
Running time
125 minutes
BudgetFRF 14 million[1]
Box office$35.3 million[2]
$500,000 (US)[3]

Borsalino is a 1970 French gangster film directed by Jacques Deray and starring Alain Delon, Jean-Paul Belmondo and Catherine Rouvel. It was entered into the 20th Berlin International Film Festival.[4] In 2009 Empire magazine named it #19 in a poll of "The 20 Greatest Gangster Movies You've Never Seen… Probably". A sequel, Borsalino & Co., was released in 1974 with Alain Delon in the leading role. The film is based on real life gangsters Paul Carbone and François Spirito, who were members of the Carlingue (the French Gestapo), that collaborated with Nazi Germany during the occupation of France in World War Two (though this is not mentioned in the film).[5]

It was being shown on BBC One in the United Kingdom on August 31, 1997 when it was interrupted at 1:45am by BBC newsreader Martyn Lewis to bring the first news report that Diana, Princess of Wales had been involved in a car crash in Paris. The film would be interrupted one more time in the following hour for another update about the crash.[6][7][8][9]


In 1930, in Marseille, a gangster named Siffredi is released from prison and searches for his former girlfriend, Lola. He finds her with Capella, another gangster. The two men fight over her but become friendly and form a partnership, fixing horseraces and prizefights.

They are contacted by Rinaldi, a lawyer who works for Marello and Poli, the two crime bosses who control all the organized crime in Marseille. Rinaldi suggests that Siffredi and Capella should seize control of Marseille's fish market and take it away from Marello. They succeed but they become too ambitious and try to take control of the meat market which is controlled by Poli. He tries to have Capella and Siffredi killed but they succeed in killing him instead. Rinaldi is killed by another gangster named The Dancer.

Capella and Siffredi establish themselves as the new bosses of Marseille's underworld. Capella decides to leave Marseille but is killed by an assassin. Siffredi then decides to leave Marseille himself.




Alain Delon wanted to produce the film because he was looking for a project to do with his co-star Jean Paul Belmondo. He found the story of Carbone and Spirito in a crime book he was reading about French gangsters from 1900 to 1970.[10]

Originally the film was going to be called Carbone and Spirito but after there were objections about using the names of real gangsters the characters were fictionalized and the idea was dropped.[11] Alain Delon said he wanted something like Vera Cruz because the title would not have to be translated all around the world.[10] Eventually the title was taken from the famous Borsalino company which had been making fedora style hats since the late 19th century. Its golden age was between the 1920s and 1940s which is within the film's time frame. As a consequence of the movie, there was revival in the popularity of Borsalino fedora hats.[12]


Despite Delon's desire to work with Belmondo, the relationship between the pair broke down after filming was completed. Director Jacques Deray noted that, "All through production Delon was impeccable, never interfered. But when the film was completed "Delon the producer" stepped in and took it over."[13] Delon said while promoting the film in the US:

We are still what you in America call pals or buddies. But we are not friends. There is a difference. He was my guest in the film but still he complained. I like him as an actor but as a person, he's a bit different. I think his reaction was a stupid reaction... almost like a female reaction. But I don't want to talk about him anymore.[5]

Delon's associate producer, Pierre Caro, said:

If you ask me, I think Belmondo was afraid from the first to make a picture with Alain. He demanded the same number of close ups. Alain had to cancel a lot of his best scenes because they made him look better than Belmondo. My own feeling is that they will never work together again. Alain says they will but he lies.[5]

Under the terms of their contracts, Belmondo and Delon were required to have the same number of close-ups which prompted Delon to dye his hair black for his role.[10]

Belmondo later sued Delon in court over the manner in which their names were billed in the production. Belmondo was annoyed that the title card "an Alain Delon Production" appeared before his name in the credits.


The film was shot on location in and around Marseille, France. Interiors were completed in Paris. The movie remains one of the most expensive French movies ever made. Finance mostly came from Paramount Pictures.[13]


The film was a large success at the French box office, breaking records throughout the country. It had admissions in France of 4 710 381.[14] This made it the fourth most watched film of the year, after The Gendarme Takes Off, Atlantic Wall, and Rider on the Rain. It was followed by The Red Circle, MASH, Once Upon a Time in the West, Things of Life, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Donkey Skin and The Damned.[15]

The film was also very popular elsewhere in Europe but did not break through in the US the way the filmmakers hoped.[5] While it was released the Markovic Affair was still being heavily publicised, adding to the film's notoriety.[10]


  1. ^ Google Books (quote: "La sortie de Borsalino constitue l'un des événements cinématographiques du premier trimestre 1970. Pas seulement parce que c'est "la" plus grosse production française du moment (14 millions)).
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ " Awards for Borsalino". Retrieved 8 March 2010.
  5. ^ a b c d KLEMESRUD, JUDY (16 August 1970). "He's Good When He's Bad". New York Times. p. 89.
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 7 October 2015. Retrieved 2015-10-06.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ a b c d Kramer, Carol (16 August 1970). "Top Sex Symbols of French Films Feud at Drop of Hat". Chicago Tribune. p. e1.
  11. ^ ""Borsalino" production information". Histories de Tournages. Retrieved 4 June 2019.
  12. ^ "The Borsalino Hat". New York Times. 26 March 1972. p. F17.
  13. ^ a b Lee Deray, Jacques (24 November 1970). "Bonnie and Clyde with garlic: Lee Langley interviews Alain Delon and Jacques Deray about 'Borsalino', the film they made together". The Guardian. p. 8.
  14. ^ "Borsalino". Box Office Story.
  15. ^ "1970 Box Office in France". Box Office Story.

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