Magnet of Doom

Magnet of Doom (French: L'Aîné des Ferchaux, "The Elder Ferchaux") is a 1963 French film, directed by Jean-Pierre Melville, based on the novel of the same title by Georges Simenon.

Magnet of Doom
Directed byJean-Pierre Melville
Written byJean-Pierre Melville
Georges Simenon (novel)
StarringJean-Paul Belmondo
Charles Vanel
Music byGeorges Delerue
CinematographyHenri Decaë
Release date
1963 (France)
Running time
102 min
  • France
  • Italy[1]
Box office1,484,948 admissions (France)[2]


In Paris the young ex-para and would-be boxer, Michel Maudet, loses his first big fight and is sacked by his manager. Needing a job, he answers an ad for a male secretary able to travel and is hired on the spot by Dieudonné Ferchaux, senior partner of a failing bank who has a criminal past. Without telling his girl friend Lina, whom he leaves penniless, that night he flies with Ferchaux to New York. Next morning, Ferchaux is able to collect millions of dollars from his safe-deposit box but cannot touch his US bank account because the French authorities are seeking his extradition. Hiring a car, he and Maudet drive by back roads to Louisiana, shadowed by FBI agents.

Renting an isolated house in New Orleans, Ferchaux falls sick and Maudet gets increasingly frustrated at the whims of an old man with no power left beyond his attaché case of dollars. Going to the neighbourhood bar for drink and company, Maudet mentions his boss's stash to the owner Jeff, a crook and murderer, and then picks up a dancer Lou in a night club. Deciding he would rather be with her, he takes Ferchaux's case of money but something makes him go back with it to the house, where Jeff and an accomplice are trying to rob Ferchaux, who fights back ferociously. Though Maudet routs the villains, Ferchaux has been knifed and dies in his arms. With his last breath he urges Maudet to take his keys, which will open another safe-deposit box full of dollars in Venezuela, but Maudet has had enough.


The outdoor scenes were shot on location in the U.S.. It was Melville's first feature film shot in color.



Magnet of Doom was released in France in 1963.[1]


  1. "L'Aîné des Ferchaux" (in French). Retrieved July 9, 2015.
  2. Box office information for film at Box Office Story
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