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Michel Poiccard, a self-centered and amoral young Frenchman with no visible means of support, has patterned his character after Humphrey Bogart's screen image, taking what he wants when he wants it. One day while loafing around Marseilles, he casually steals a car. He heads north, and, finding a gun in the glove compartment, cold-bloodedly kills a policeman who attempts to stop him. Back in Paris, he makes a date with Patricia Franchini, a young American expatriate who sells the Herald Tribune on the Champs-Elysées. Shaking off police, he mugs and robs a man in a restaurant men's room and then lets himself into Patricia's apartment. They make love, and she reveals that she may be pregnant as a result of an earlier encounter. He suggests that they go to Italy, but she guards against sacrificing her independence and her aspirations as a journalist. Threatened by police, she accompanies Michel to a friend's house; but, concerned about her freedom, she then impulsively betrays him in hopes of forcing him to leave without her. Not even the thought of death, however, can move Michel, and he lingers about the house until the police arrive on the scene. As he runs down the cobblestoned street, he is hit from behind by gunfire. When Patricia reaches him, he looks up at her, makes their private funny face, curses her, and then dies.