Far be it from us to be completely U.S.-centric. Today marks the anniversary of the storming of the French prison Bastille, officially celebrated as France's Independence Day. Félicitations, mes amis! To celebrate, we picked five classic French crime films that any fan of film noir, action or police procedurals should watch immediately.

Dubbed films policier in its native tongue, the genre mixes nods to classic 1940s American film noirs with straight-ahead action, anti-heros and European-style existential angst. In the works of Henri-Georges Clouzot and Jean-Pierre Melville, among others, motivation and psychological ramifications are as important as where the gun is hidden and what femme fatale is lying. It's both heady and exhilarating. And of course, this is just the tip of the tip of the iceberg. For a comprehensive list, check out FilmsdeFrance.com's extensive list of policiers. Enjoie. Far be it from us to be completely U.S.-centric. Today marks the anniversary of the storming of the French prison Bastille, officially celebrated as France's Independence Day. Félicitations, mes amis! To celebrate, we picked five classic French crime films that any fan of film noir, action or police procedurals should watch immediately.

Dubbed films policier in its native tongue, the genre mixes nods to classic 1940s American film noirs with straight-ahead action, anti-heros and European-style existential angst. In the works of Henri-Georges Clouzot and Jean-Pierre Melville, among others, motivation and psychological ramifications are as important as where the gun is hidden and what femme fatale is lying. It's both heady and exhilarating. And of course, this is just the tip of the tip of the iceberg. For a comprehensive list, check out FilmsdeFrance.com's extensive list of policiers. Enjoie.

'Rififi' (1955)

When the House Un-American Activities Committee blacklisted American director Jules Dassin, the filmmaker moved to France and created 'Rififi,' one of cinema's tensest and most enduring heist films.A gang of thieves attempts to break into a seemingly impenetrable English jewelry store, only to run into unforeseen complications afterward. Anything more would be ruining the fun. Dassin's mesmerizing 28-minute sequence of the robbery -- filmed entirely without sound -- continues to influence filmmakers today.




'Les Diaboliques' (1955)

Proof that cheating can have dire consequences, Henri-Georges Clouzot's suspense film -- on par with Hitchcock's best -- revolves around the murder of a school headmaster at the hands of his wife and his mistress, a teacher at the school. When the corpse ends up missing from its burial spot, a series of ingenious plot twists crop up that make the viewer question who's really on whose side. Skip the atrocious 1996 remake and go straight to the source.





'Ascenseur Pour L'Echafaud' (Elevator to the Gallows) (1958)

Julien Tavernier has just committed the perfect murder: killing his boss and the husband of his lover and making it look like suicide. When he realizes he forgot to hide a crucial piece of evidence, he returns to his building where the murder takes place, only to get stuck in the elevator on the way to hide the evidence. Louis Malle was 24 years old when he made his debut film, a confident and astounding precursor to the French New Wave movement. Miles Davis provides the improvised, exquisite score.





'Les Yeux Sans Visage' (Eyes Without a Face) (1959)

Still one of the creepiest films ever, Georges Franju's horror classic concerns plastic surgeon Doctor Génessier, tormented by the car accident that mangled and destroyed his teenage daughter's face. While the daughter is forced to wear a mask to aid in healing and hide her shame, Génessier kidnaps unsuspecting young females to operate on, hoping to successfully transplant their faces onto his daughter's. A highly graphic movie for its time -- the transplant scene is still a marvel of special effects -- Franju still injects his characters with pathos and warped sentimentality.





'Le Cercle Rouge' (The Red Circle) (1970)

No list of French crime films is complete without the master: Jean-Pierre Melville. Arguably best known for 1950's 'Au Revoir Les Enfants,' Melville was also a pioneer in gangster films, filling his characters with both gangster mannerisms and philosophical, existential leanings. 'Le Cercle Rouge' goes into the the French underworld, bringing together an escaped con and former cop (among others) to rob a jewelry store. Melville's magnum opus, the film radiates an inherent sense of cool with every frame.