Directed by Henri Verneuil and released domestically by Paramount Studios in 1964, Greed In The Sun tells the story of a man named Rocco (Jean-Paul Belmondo), a criminal who teams up with a beautiful woman named Angèle (Anne-Maire Coffinet) to steal a brand new truck traveling through the middle of the massive Sahara desert carrying a top secret cargo. Rocco and Angèle pull it off without much of a problem but the man who owns the company from which the truck was stolen, Castigliano (Gert Frobe), is quite understandably none too pleased with this. As such, he hires a man named Hervé (Lino Ventura), who is not only the best driver around but who just so happens to be one of Rocco's closest friends, and a German named Hans (Reginald Kernan) to head out into the desert after Rocco and to bring back not only the truck, but it's valuable cargo as well.
Of course, Hervé and Hans head out as intended but it doesn't take them long to face a few setbacks. With them out of commission, Castigliano calls in for a second truck, this time driven by a man named Mitch (Bernard Blier) who is accompanied by Khenouche (Doudou Babet). As they close in on Rocco and Angèle, the two highjackers have to deal with the mounting pressure and the task of dealing with the contents of the truck.
A very effective mix of suspense and effective comedy, Greed In The Sun (presented here in the one hundred and twenty five minute director's cut) is pretty easy to enjoy. The film moves at a good pace and features some excellent camera work that shows off the interesting locations used throughout the movie and gives the film a fairly exotic look and feel. This works very much in the picture's favor as it gives the movie an air of lavishness, making it appear more expensive than it probably was to make. While on the surface the film is little more than a simple chase story, the plot weaves and twists in some very interesting and unexpected ways, taking things just seriously enough to work.
The film also features some pretty solid acting from pretty much everybody involved in the cast. Headliner Belmondo is as cool as they come, making his work here look natural, never forced or out of place at all. His chemistry with the stunningly beautiful Anne-Maire Coffinet adds an interesting dynamic to things at times and if she isn't given as much to do, dramatically speaking, as her co-star she never looks anything less than amazing. Bernard Blier frequently steals the scenes that he is in, showing a great sense of comedic timing and doing some interesting things with the part to make his character memorable. The rest of the cast also do quite well with the material that they've been given.
The film does show its age in certain political ways, such as the way that it deals with French treatment of South Africans, but that really just makes it a product of its time, no more, no less. There's definitely a sense of male superiority throughout the movie, with most of the women relegated to sex kitten status, there to make the men happy and to look good. The men are all very much of the macho variety here, showing little in the way of sensitivity or compassion or feelings, really, though you do get the sense in some scenes that friendship and camaraderie mean something to these hardened truck drivers. In some ways the picture might remind some viewers of what Sam Peckinpah did with Convoy mixed in strange ways with Wages Of Fear.
The film is effective in its pacing and features some impressive stunt work, all done, of course, before the advent of CGI and featuring real drivers in real vehicles (this always seems to make things more exciting and believable no matter how good computer effects can sometimes get). A great score helps keep things moving and involved and the end result is a very well made and entertaining movie worth seeking out.
Greed In The Sun arrives on Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 2.35.1 widescreen from Olive Films. The elements used for this transfer appear to have been in pretty good shape, though some minor print damage does pop up here and there - tiny stuff, really, minor specks and the like, nothing too serious. The black and white image shows nice contrast, white whites, deep blacks and solid shadow detail throughout. There are no noticeable compression artifacts to point out nor are there any problems with edge enhancement, aliasing or noise reduction. Olive probably could have done a little bit of cleanup work here but that's not really their style. The results, however, are still pretty good.
The only audio option on the disc is a French language DTS-HD Mono mix with optional subtitles provided in English only. Clarity and quality here is fine, there's maybe a tiny bit of hiss in a couple of spots if you really listen for it but otherwise the levels are well balanced, the score sounds good and the dialogue is clean, clear and easy to follow.
Aside from a static menu and chapter selection, the disc includes a French language theatrical trailer that appears with English subtitles.
Greed In The Sun is tense, exciting, well acted and very nicely shot. It is a film with loads of atmosphere, a very strong leading cast and an excellent supporting cast and a story that will pull you in and keep you interested throughout. Olive Film's Blu-ray is, not surprisingly, completely bare bones but it does present the film up in its original aspect ratio and in very nice shape. As such, it comes recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.