Cent mille dollars au soleil (Greed in the Sun). 1964. France/Italy. Directed by Henri Verneuil. Written by Michel Audiard, Marcel Jullian, from a story by Claude Veillot. With Jean-Paul Belmondo, Lino Ventura, Bernard Blier, Andrea Parisy, Gert Froebe. In French; English subtitles. DCP. 130 min.
After appearing together in Claude Sautet’s unfortunately unavailable Classe tous risques in 1960, Lino Ventura and Jean-Paul Belmondo quickly became dominant French stars in the ensuing decade, and their reunion in Henri Verneuil’s action thriller Cent mille dollars au soleil became a major commercial success. Shot in gorgeous black-and-white scope on location in Morocco, the film is a sort of anti-Hawksian buddy movie in which two best friends, both highly skilled truck drivers who ply the cross-Saharan route for dubious entrepreneur Gert Froebe, become rivals when Belmondo takes off with a truck filled with a mysterious but valuable cargo, and Ventura is sent after him. Verneuil shrewdly treats their rivalry as a tortoise-and-hare situation, pitting Ventura’s stoic determination against Belmondo’s jittery energy. The film also features Bernard Blier as Walter Brennan, and the richly vernacular dialogue of Michel Audiard.