Overlooked & Underseen: Farewell, Friend (1968)
Alain Delon and Charles Bronson; two great tastes that go great together? Perhaps, mon ami, perhaps. I know they might seem like a weird combo to put as the leads of your thriller, though. In Alain Delon, you have one of the coolest mofos to ever grace the screen, and in Charles Bronson, you have one of the most bad ass guys to be put on film. When my husband first showed me this movie, he didn’t tell me a thing about it so when the credits rolled it was a squeal (yes, squeal) when Delon’s name came up and a “wait, wut?” when Bronson’s name appeared. After a steady diet of Delon/Melville, it seemed odd to me to put them both together.
Two men returning to France on the same boat from the war in Algeria in the late '60s just happen to meet each other at the dock. Dino Barran (Delon) is an army doctor who is wrestling with some tragedy but we’re not sure what. Franz Propp (Bronson) is an American fighting with the Legionnaires. The two men hang out with each other for a few hours. Propp eventually tries to recruit Barran to help him on some sort of scheme. He’s planning on doing something illegal and needs a doctor to go along. Barran declines. He’s got another job he has to take care of first. Barran feels obligated to help the lover of his best friend, Isabelle (Olga Georges-Picot). She wants him to break into her firm and put something back inside a safe.
Propp, who now works auctions of hot women to the highest bidder, is still intrigued by Barran. He decides to follow him and see what he’s up getting into. On a long New Year’s weekend, Propp follows Barran into Isabelle’s work. While Barran still wants to put something back into the safe, Propp wants to steal it for himself. The two end up getting locked inside the safe without any provisions and without a way out. These two polar opposites will have to work together to make it out alive.
These two actors really work well together. Bronson is really charming here. Not exactly a word one associates with him often, but we should! He can really turn it on. I think Delon sometimes also gets the short shrift when it comes to acting. He’s seen as a pretty boy and not much else, but this is wrong, too. Both men are better than they’re given credit for and their work here proves it. Both women in the movie, Georges-Picot and Brigitte Fossey (as Dominique 'Waterloo' Austerlitz) are terrific, as well.
The movie looks pretty great, too. It’s very late '60s French in the best way possible. The direction isn’t showy but it gets the job done. I will say, you do feel the movie's nearly two-hour runtime. That might be because of the scenes where the two men are locked in the safe. Don’t get me wrong, those scenes are great but the tension one feels during this section makes it seem longer than it is in reality.
Although this isn’t my favorite Delon or Bronson film, it is worth watching if only for these two. Delon loved Bronson’s work so much, it was he who suggested Bronson for the role of Propp. We’re damn lucky he did because it is a treat to watch them work together.
Farewell, Friend (or Adieu, l’ami as it is known in France) is streaming right now on FilmStruck.