The most commercially successful (and, perhaps not coincidentally, the most mainstream) of Melville's films to date, "Leon Morin, Pretre" boasted a big budget and a cast to match. Starring Emmanuele Riva, who had made the groundbreaking "Hiroshima Mon Amour" two years earlier, and New Wave darling Jean-Paul Belmondo, fresh from "A Bout De Souffle", "Leon Morin, Pretre" is the story of an unfulfilled love affair set against the troubled backdrop of the Occupation. Barny (Riva) is a young widow, and a militant communist and atheist. One day she enters a church, and randomly picks a priest to taunt. Leon Morin is young, handsome, and unconventional in his religious approach. The two begin a platonic relationship, but soon Barny's admiration for Morin turns to desire and he becomes the object of her romantic obsession. With an erotically charged performance from Belmondo, who a year later would swap his priestly robes for the gangster uniform of "Le Doulos", "Leon Morin, Pretre" is the closest Melville came to making a "woman's film" and was also the surprise success of his career.