The Unvanquished (film)

The Unvanquished (French: L'Insoumis), is a 1964 film noir directed by Alain Cavalier and starring Alain Delon opposite Lea Massari.[3][4]

Film poster
Directed byAlain Cavalier
Written byJean Cau
Alain Cavalier
Produced byAlain Delon (uncredited)
Georges Beaume
StarringAlain Delon
Lea Massari
Georges Géret
CinematographyClaude Renoir
Music byGeorges Delerue
Delbeau Prod Cipra (Paris)
PCM (Rome)
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • 25 September 1964 (1964-09-25) (France)
Running time
114 minutes[1]
Box office711,339 admissions (France)[2]

The film's background is the Algerian War and Alain Delon plays Thomas Vlassenroot, a deserter of the French Foreign Legion in Algeria during the 1961 uprising.[5] When a former lieutenant who now works for the OAS proposes to him to kidnap lawyer Dominique Servet (played by Massari), Thomas agrees. Caught giving Dominique water, Thomas goes on the run after a shoot out with his OAS colleagues, who subsequently begin to hunt them down.

The film was not a completely happy experience for Alain Delon. He sustained physical injuries while filming and the reception of the picture by the French public was not good. The censors insisted on a number of cuts which compromised the artistic integrity of the film.[4]


Thomas Vlassenroot, a citizen of Luxembourg, after his divorce, decides to enlist in the French Foreign Legion. He is posted to Algeria, where the film opens with him trying in vain to save a wounded comrade while under fire from the rebels. Thomas deserts to join the OAS on the order of Lieutenant Fraser (Georges Géret).

After the 1961 uprising, a disillusioned Thomas wants to return home but agrees to take part in a plan to kidnap lawyer Dominique Servet in return for enough money to enable him to pay smugglers who can ferry him to France.

Dominique Servet is in Algiers working for the prosecution on a case involving important Europeans, her Algerian witnesses making her a target of the OAS. While guarding Dominique, Thomas' conscience is aroused by Dominique's plight, and he is attracted to her—she implores him to release her, but instead he agrees to give her water—the other guard, Amerio (a Pied-Noir) warns him at gunpoint not to get soft. Thomas is also armed, and they end up shooting at each other. Amerio is killed, while Thomas is wounded. Dominique pays Thomas the smuggling fee in exchange for freeing her and another prisoner. Thomas locks up Fraser when he comes to check on them, and is warned that the OAS will never stop hunting Thomas if he goes through with this—Amerio's death can be forgiven, but not the betrayal of releasing the prisoners. He says Thomas would be better off killing him—but Thomas refuses to kill Fraser—to him, that would be murder. He puts water in the cell, and tells his girlfriend Maria (whose devotion he can only partly return) to go and release Fraser once he's safely out of Algeria.

Arriving in France, Thomas takes the train back to Luxembourg but during a stop in Lyon he disembarks, taking the chance that Dominique will provide help—and wanting to see her again. Thomas finds Dominique at home and a doctor is called to help get Thomas into a hospital under a fake name once she learns how serious his injuries are.

She takes him to a room he can hide out in while waiting, and in spite of her loyalty to her husband, she ends up going to bed with him there. Fraser, who had been watching Dominique's house, follows them to the room with an associate. He intends to kill them both, but takes too long explaining to Thomas that his betrayal of the movement was unnecessary; he would have kept his word about not punishing Thomas for the death of Amerio. Fraser can't understand the real reasons Thomas did what he did, anymore than he understood why Fraser would risk his life for a dying man. Thomas asks for a moment to adjust his bandages then shoots the other OAS man with a gun he had concealed under the bedclothes—again leaving Fraser alive, because he can't kill in cold blood.

Dominique drives him in her Citroën DS. On the way back to his home they go through roadblocks, get shot at by the police, and finally with the help of Dominique's understanding husband he finally crosses the border to Luxembourg and reaches his mother's bee farm. He is increasingly aware that his untreated wound will be fatal, but is obsessed with getting back before he dies.

He enters his home and finds his little girl sitting at the table. She's frightened by what and who she sees before her, and runs away. He collapses on the floor and dies while passing his hand over his face as if to close his eyes. Dominique still waiting outside the fence cries out his name. The film closes on a silent black screen with Thomas Vlassenroot's name and dates of birth and death, 1933-1961.[6]

Principal castEdit

Actor Character
Alain Delon Thomas Vlassenroot
Lea Massari Dominique Servet
Georges Géret le lieutenant Fraser
Robert Castel Amerio
Viviane Attia Maria

Alternative titlesEdit

Title Country
Hölle von Algier, Die West Germany
Flykten Sweden
A Szökevény Hungary
Eho dikaioma na skotoso? Greece
Have I the Right to Kill? United States
Kostajat Finland
La Muerte no deserta Spain
The Unvanquished Great Britain

Release datesEdit

Country Release date
France 25 September 1964
Finland 30 April 1965
United States 1965
West Germany 19 March 1965
Sweden 5 July 1965


The film was made for Alain Delon's own company. It was distributed by MGM, for whom Delon had also made Any Number Can Win and Joy House.[7] He had a five-picture deal with the studio and would go on to make Once a Thief and The Yellow Rolls-Royce for them.[8] A film still featuring Delon was used by English rock band The Smiths for the cover of their album The Queen Is Dead.



  1. ^ cinema.aliceadsl
  2. ^ Box Office information for film at Box Office Story
  3. ^ Neil Coffey. "French Dictionary". Retrieved 2014-04-07.
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^ New York Times review
  6. ^ "". Retrieved 2014-04-07.
  7. ^ Scheuer, Philip K. (Dec 23, 1963). "'Fair Lady' Stars Free for Next Roles: Warner and Romy Schneider Cite Prime Lures for Actor". Los Angeles Times. p. B9.
  8. ^ Tinee, Mae (Feb 16, 1964). "French Movie Actor Bears Resemblance to Jimmy Dean". Chicago Tribune. p. g15.

External linksEdit