Three Men to Kill

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Three Men to Kill
Directed by Jacques Deray
Screenplay byJacques Deray
Alain Delon
Christopher Frank
Based onLe Petit Bleu de la côte ouest by Jean-Patrick Manchette
Produced byAlain Delon
Alain Terzian
StarringAlain Delon
Dalila Di Lazzaro
Cinematography Jean Tournier
Music by Claude Bolling
Adel Productions
Distributed byUnion Générale Cinématographique (UGC)
Release date
  • 31 October 1980 (1980-10-31)
Running time
95 minutes
Country France
Box office$16.5 million [1]

Three Men to Kill (French: Trois hommes à abattre) is a French crime film released in 1980, directed by Jacques Deray, starring Alain Delon with Dalila Di Lazzaro. The screenplay is written by Jacques Deray, Alain Delon and Christopher Frank based on the novel Le Petit Bleu de la côte ouest by Jean-Patrick Manchette.


The story is about Michel Gerfaut (Delon), charming professional card player who out of nowhere becomes involved in some retribution between weapon traders of high level.

With 2,194,795 tickets sold, the film ranked 16th at the French box-office in 1980. [2] Three Men to Kill is the first film of a group of popular films released in the 1980s and starring Alain Delon that share a visual and narrative style, followed by For a Cop's Hide (1981) and Le battant (1983).


Michel Gerfaut is a handsome middle-aged man who lives in Paris, France. He has a beautiful girlfriend called Béa and earns his living as a professional poker player. One night, as he is on his way to yet another card game, he comes across a car accident. Noticing that the driver of the crashed car is still alive, he brings him to the hospital. A newspaper article later reveals that the man, who was actually a high-ranking functionary, has died, and that two of his colleagues were killed the same night (the titular three men to kill). The men were assassinated as they were about to blow the whistle on a deal involving faulty guided missiles.

Gerfaut is followed by two hitmen who saw him at the crash site and mistakenly assumed that he is a mercenary hired by competing armament manufacturers to sabotage the deal. After several attempts on the lives of him and his girlfriend are made, Gerfaut flees and follows a series of clues that eventually lead him to the head of the conspiracy, an arms dealer named Emmerich. Emmerich doesn't believe Gerfaut's claims of innocence and becomes furious, causing himself a fatal heart attack. Emmerich's assistant then offers Gerfaut a job as his enforcer, but Gerfaut refuses and walks away, believing everything to be over.

The next day, Gerfaut and his girlfriend are seen having a walk in Paris where another pair of hitman ambushes and shoots Gerfaut.


Release and reception

The film was released in France on October 31, 1980. With 2,194,795 tickets sold, the film ranked 16th at the French box-office that year. [2] It was Delon's most commercially successful film since Two Men in Town (1973). [3]

The Japanese distributors reportedly cut the finale where Delon is assassinated and thus gave the film a happy ending. (Which somewhat more closely resembles the ending of the novel). [4]

Pierre Murat wrote in Télérama: "This well-made and efficient thriller by Jacques Deray, where Delon does the perfect Delon and where music plays one of the main roles, definitely has more than one trump card up its sleeve." [4]

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  1. Box office information for film at Box office story
  2. 1 2 "Trois hommes à abattre (1980) - JPBox-Office". Retrieved 2019-11-21.
  3. "Box office Alain Delon - Box Office Story". Retrieved 2019-11-22.
  4. 1 2 Murat, Pierre (2018-03-18). "Le film du dimanche soir : cinq raisons de (re)voir "Trois hommes à abattre"". Télé (in French). Retrieved 2019-11-22.