Thieves After Dark [Les voleurs de la nuit] (1984)
Starring Véronique Jannot, Bobby Di Cicco, Victor Lanoux, Stéphane Audran, Camille de Casabianca, Micheline Presle, Rachel Salik, Claude Chabrol, Marthe Villalonga, Andréas Voutsinas
Directed by Samuel Fuller
Expectations: Very low.
Thieves After Dark is arguably the rarest of Sam Fuller’s feature films, but unfortunately it’s also the worst one I’ve seen. This one barely even resembles a Sam Fuller film outside of the scenes that bookend it; if it weren’t for his incredible cameo, I’d still be wondering if the people doing the titles had gotten confused. It’s watchable, but at times it’s almost painfully so. Thieves After Dark is supposedly a tribute to the French New Wave, but instead of exuding the detached, youthful spirit of the French New Wave films I’ve seen, it just comes off as a watered-down ’80s film without much in the way of anything, whether that’s entertainment, thought-provoking themes or nice visuals.
Based on the evidence at hand, Sam Fuller himself doesn’t seem too proud of this one either. In his autobiography it barely rates more than a couple of passing mentions, and every time it does come up it’s in a negative light. It can’t be a coincidence that the chapter where Sam Fuller discusses the film is also the one where he explains the book’s title, A Third Face. The third face is the face of a person on the inside, the one that no one sees and is only known to the person themselves. He tells us that you can’t lie to the third face, and then goes on to cautiously dance around talking about Thieves After Dark. I’m convinced that on the inside Fuller knew this wasn’t much of a movie, but he didn’t have the heart to plainly come out and say it. Just based on how much he passionately describes his other films, it’s clear that he knew defeat when he saw it.