In The Professional, Jean-Paul Belmondo plays a secret service agent responsible for executing the president of the Malagawi. A counter-order falls, the target has become a friend of the state. To prevent him from doing harm, Beaumont was imprisoned, but wasted no time in escaping, determined to carry out the operation despite the opposition of his hierarchy. This is followed by a breathless pursuit that takes a trip for 1 hour 45 minutes, until a final in apotheosis which sees the hero … die. An innocuous choice today, but daring at the time.
Indeed, Georges Lautner’s film is one of the few, with Borsalino and L’Héritier, in which a character interpreted by Belmondo dies. And for good reason, the director had to face the hostility of the producer of Gaumont Alain Poiré and Gérard Lebovici, director of the artistic agency Artmédia, to impose this end, unprecedented in Bébel’s career. “If Belmondo dies at the end, you lose 250,000 tickets to Paris“would have threatened Alain Poiré at the end of a private screening. Faced with this reluctance, another happier outcome was turned in reserve.
In the book It runs rough !, journalist Philippe Lombard takes a look behind the scenes of this story: “The scenario foresees that it leaves there. Smile on the lips, relaxed gait, the secret agent Joss Beaumont greeted everyone and flew into the air.“A scene which was not to the liking of the principal interested party:”We thought that if we let him go by helicopter, after all this suspense, we would fall a bit into the convention“explains Jean-Paul Belmondo.
Result: a stunning ending, sublimated by the Chi Mai by Ennio Morricone. “On the ending sequence, I was speechless at the impact of Chi Mai. […] The melody amplified a heartbreaking atmosphere. The importance of music on this sequence is considerable“says Lautner in The Professional, death in the skin by Philippe Lombard. Ultimately, the film garnered 5 million admissions in France and two million records sold for the soundtrack.