Léon Morin, Priest
Léon Morin, Priest

Léon Morin, Priest

Director Jean-Pierre Melville

Production year 1961

Length 128min.

Country France/Italy


In World War II, the widow Barny sees the Italian soldiers arriving in occupied Saint Bernard. Barny lives with her daughter and works correcting texts and feels a great attraction toward her boss Sabine. When the Germans arrive, Barny sends her half-Jewish daughter to live in a farm in the countryside and finds that Sabine's brother has been arrested and sent to a concentration camp. The atheist Barny decides to baptize her daughter to protect her and chooses priest Léon Morin to discuss with him themes related to religion and Catholicism and Léon lends books to her. Barny converts to the Catholicism and becomes closer to Léon, feeling an unrequited desire for him.


Jean-Pierre Melville
Jean-Pierre Melville



Georges de Beauregard, Carlo Ponti


Jean-Pierre Melville

Director of Photography

Henri Decaë

Production designer

Daniel Guéret

Music by

Martial Solal


Guy Villette , Jacques Maumon


Jacqueline Meppiel


Jean-Paul Belmondo, Emmanuelle Riva, Irène Tunc

Production company(ies)

Rome-Paris-Films, С.С. Champion

Jean-Pierre Melville

After the fall of France in 1940 during World War II, Jean-Pierre Grumbach entered the French Resistance to oppose the German Nazis who occupied the country. He adopted the nom de guerre Melville, after the American author Herman Melville, a favorite of his. When he returned from the war, he applied for a license to become an assistant director but was refused. Without this support, he decided to direct his films by his own means, and continued to use Melville as his stage name. He became an independent filmmaker and owned his own studio. He became well known for his tragic, minimalist film noir crime dramas, such as Le Doulos (1962), Le Samouraï (1967) and Le Cercle rouge (1970), starring major actors such as Alain Delon (probably the definitive "Melvillian" actor), Jean-Paul Belmondo and Lino Ventura. Influenced by American cinema, especially gangster films of the 1930s and 1940s, he used accessories such as weapons, clothes (trench coats), and fedora hats, to shape a characteristic look in his movies. Melville's independence and "reporting" style of filmmaking (he was one of the first French directors to use real locations regularly) were a major influence on the French New Wave film movement. Jean-Luc Godard used him as a minor character in his seminal New Wave film Breathless. When Godard was having difficulty editing the film, Melville suggested that he just cut directly to the best parts of a shot. Godard was inspired and the film's innovative use of jump cuts have become part of its fame.


A Day in the Life of a Clown/ 24 heures de la vie d'un clown (1946, short), The Silence of the Sea (1949), Les Enfants terribles (1950), When You Read This Letter(1953), Bob the Gambler (1956), Two Men in Manhattan (1959), Léon Morin, Priest (1961), The Finger Man (1963), Magnet of Doom/Le deuxième souffle (1963), Le Samouraï (1967), Army of Shadows (1969), Le Cercle rouge (1970), Dirty Money/Un flic(1972).

FILMS 2017