The Outsider (Le Marginal)
Kl Studio Classics // Unrated // $29.95 // July 2, 2019
Review by Stuart Galbraith IV | posted August 1, 2019
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Graphical Version
After the outstanding The Professional (Le Professionnel, 1981), The Outsider (Le Marginal, 1983), made by many of the same key people, would just have to be great, right? I mean, even if it were 80% as good as The Professional it'd still be pretty damn wonderful.

Alas, The Outsider is more like 50% as good, maybe less. Where The Professional was a clever, funny, sexy, suspenseful, and vividly-shot spy thriller, The Outsider is more like a cross between a typical Italian poliziotteschi and a Dirty Harry movie, but in French. Some of the good qualities of The Professional are also present in The Outsider, and star Jean-Paul Belmondo is, unsurprisingly, terrific as the loose cannon cop of the title, but the script is vastly inferior and its story confusing and uninvolving.

Philippe Jordan (Belmondo) is a policeman working out of Marseille, the domain of drug lord Mecacci (Henry Silva, his voice dubbed into French). When a speedboat loaded with heroin outruns French authorities, crossing over into international waters, Jordan, aboard a helicopter, leaps onto the speeding boat and, holding two gangsters at gunpoint, tosses the drugs overboard.

In a disciplinary transfer, Jordan is reassigned to lowly beat work in Paris's Red-Light District, but then an opportunity arises to nail Mecacci after Jordan learns of Alfred Gonet (Michel Robin), alias Freddy the Chemist, a middle-aged gay pusher who may be willing to testify against Mecacci - for the right price, and if he can be found.

In contrast to the strong, smart narrative drive of The Professional, The Outsider just kind of meanders, with some well-staged set pieces breaking up the tedium. However, there are many good points: Belmondo has charisma to spare and, in contrast with most Hollywood stars of his generation, very clearly is doing nearly all of his own stunts, some of it quite dangerous-looking. In that early scene it's clearly Belmondo climbing from the boat back onto the helicopter, and it sure looks like him jumping onto the boat as well.

As in The Professional, there's a Bullitt-style car chase (staged once again by Rémy Julienne) through the streets of Paris, and Belmondo is very clearly behind the wheel. Pursuing assassins who've already murdered his closest friend, Jordan corners their crashed vehicle, then sadistically and repeatedly rams the vehicle over-and-over, crushing to death the two men inside. That he then just walks away, casually returning to his precinct station strains credibility to the breaking point. (Well, he does get chewed by his superiors.)

In the end, however, Belmondo is eminently watchable. In one standout scene he watches silently while a fellow officer slaps around a prostitute, Livia Maria Dolores (Carlos Sotto Mayor, Belmondo's girlfriend at the time) then, in typically breezy Belmondo manner, chastises the officer for his manner in questioning her. He begins asking him everyday questions followed by violent whacks across the face, as the shocked policeman sits there and takes it.

The picture is also interesting for its unflattering depiction of Paris's underbelly, teaming with prostitutes, drug pushers, Caribbean squatters, and underaged kidnap victims forced into prostitution. One scene has Jordan looking for Freddy the Chemist at a gay bar, the men making out in the open, studded black leather everywhere, with Jordan casually inquiring about Freddy's whereabouts. He gets into a scuffle with a patron twice his size, in a bit that would be politically incorrect today if not for the effortless charm Belmondo lends it.

Video & Audio

? Part of Kino's bountiful license with Canal-Plus, The Outsider is presented in its original 1.66:1 aspect ratio. The transfer is generally good, though it's not quite as pristine as The Professional, with less vivid color and an image a fraction less sharp. The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono, featuring a lesser Ennio Morricone score, is adequate. Region "A" encoded.

Extra Features.

Supplements are limited to an audio commentary by film historian Samm Deigham, who provides a good overview of the film and the careers of Belmondo and frequent collaborator director Jacques Deray. There's a trailer for this and other related Kino releases.

Parting Thoughts

Those interested in dipping into these French waters will definitely want to watch the far superior Le Professionnel first, then consider The Outsider based on your reaction to the first film. Still, Recommended.

Stuart Galbraith IV is the Kyoto-based film historian currently restoring a 200-year-old Japanese farmhouse.

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