As much as Lino Ventura’s Gerbier grounds “Army of Shadows,” Simone Signoret is its heart, insofar as anyone is allowed a heart in the underground world of the French Resistance. She is, as her colleagues remark, a magnificent woman—among other things, she engineers two extraordinary escapes for her comrades.
Jean-Pierre Melville’s film about a small group of WWII Resistance fighters is undeniably a spy film. Yet it is strikingly unlike other spy films. Bursts of action happen only between long stretches of mostly silent waiting. The heroes make no perceptible progress against the enemy, managing little more than survival before inevitable betrayal and death.