Scorpio is a movie about spy, but very different from James Bond. An ageing CIA agent, Cross (Burt Lancaster), works well with a French hired assassin: code name Scorpio (Alain Delon), and has taught him many things. Their relationship is more like father-son than teacher-student. [In The Leopard 10 years before, they were uncle-nephew.] Cross's boss, McLeod, believes that Cross is a double agent, and who is a better choice to eliminate Cross if not Scorpio, the only one who can anticipate Cross's next step. Scorpio follows Cross from Washington to Vienna and back to Washington again, but he won't kill Cross if McLeod cannot convince him of Cross's betrayal.
In the beginning of the movie, there is an excellent scene on how Scorpio does his job in Orly - I like the footage style. Unlike Jef Costello in Le samouraï, Scorpio is full of life. He does still have that icy cold look - sometimes melancholic, but he has a sister and a girlfriend whom he loves very much and he's ready to leave everything behind for her. He loves street cats - perhaps because they are wandering around like him - and is happy when he is holding one. He also loves Cross as Cross loves him. He didn't kill Cross in Paris and Cross has saved him twice. For Scorpio, the worst sin is betrayal. When he finds out about Cross's betrayal, he shoots him while looking into his eyes - and without blinking.
The chase scene in the subway, which was being built, is one of the best moments. Burt Lancaster is an ex-acrobat and Alain Delon was a marine. Looks like to me that they both did their own stunts, which made the director could take good shots. Michael Winner (director), Burt Lancaster, and Alain Delon are Scorpions; that was why the assassin was given code name Scorpio.
Actor Paul Scofield plays Zharkov, an ageing Russian agent. Cross goes to him in Vienna to hide. How can a CIA agent befriends a Russian agent? I guess in that field, one has to have contacts everywhere. Zharkov, Cross, and Scorpio are one of the bests - unlike McLeod's agents, although Scorpio will know in the end that McLeod was not as stupid as he thought. I don't like the scene between drunk Zharkov and Cross. Dialogues between 2 drunkards are usually useless - but at least this one tells us how Zharkov still believes in the ideology although the people ruin it.