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Casque d'Or (1952)

Casque d'or (original title)
Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Romance | 18 August 1952 (USA)
In an open-air dance hall, the members of Leca's gang are relaxing with their ladies. One of them, Marie, aka "Casque d'Or" (Golden Helmet) meets Manda, a carpenter. Her man Roland belongs ... See full summary »

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(scenario), (scenario) | 1 more credit »
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Won 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Claude Dauphin ...
Raymond Bussières ...
Odette Barencey ...
Loleh Bellon ...
Solange Certin
...
Le patron de la guinguette / Guinguette
Dominique Davray ...
Jacqueline Dane
Paul Barge ...
L'inspecteur Juliani / Police Insp. Giuliani
Paul Azaïs ...
Ponsard
Jean Clarieux ...
Paul
Tony Corteggiani ...
Le commissaire / Superintendent
Émile Genevois ...
Billy (as Emile Genevois)
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Storyline

In an open-air dance hall, the members of Leca's gang are relaxing with their ladies. One of them, Marie, aka "Casque d'Or" (Golden Helmet) meets Manda, a carpenter. Her man Roland belongs to the jealous kind, and Leca himself has his eye on her. A story of love, death, friendship and jealousy during the Belle Epoque. Written by Yepok

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

L'histoire d'une femme dont chaque amour fut...

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

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Language:

Release Date:

18 August 1952 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Casque d'Or  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Optiphone)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Based on a real Paris underworld incident that took place in 1898. See more »

Connections

Featured in Casque d'Or: Au coeur des sentiments (2012) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Magnifique!
9 March 2011 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

This is one of the great classics of the French cinema from the immediate postwar period. The title, which means 'helmet of gold', presumably is a reference to the prominent bun in which Simone Signoret wears her golden hair, since it is she who precipitates all the dramatic and violent events in the story by driving men wild. The film is set circa 1900 in and near Paris, and the brilliant director Jacques Becker, who was a fanatic about period detail, has given us a vivid portrait of daily life in the suburbs of Paris, such as Belleville, at that era. I have rarely seen such perfection of costume, props, and sets for a period film. Sometimes it seems as if Becker must personally have supervised every stitch of thread in the clothing. The main characters are those low-life ruffians, or small-time gangsters, of Paris whom the French love to call by the name of 'apaches', a term derived from the Americans and their accounts of the supposedly wildest and most unruly of the American Indian tribes. The apaches (pronounced in the French style, 'layzuhpahsh') are a kind of national obsession to the French, perhaps even more so now that they are largely extinct, having been superseded by those far more extreme villains of our own time, international drug dealers and people traffickers, and terrorists. The apaches had their own peculiar codes of honour (such as shown in this story), whereas 'honour' means nothing to the more vicious criminals of today. The British used to be nearly as obsessed with their own native small-time gangsters, the London East End gangs, as the French have been with their Paris apaches. But just as nation states are being dissolved before our eyes, so too are the local criminal gangs of specific countries, and the quaint behaviour of such people seen in films like this is now an anachronism which is bound to be as remote to younger viewers as the thrashing tails of dinosaurs, and from an epoch perceived by them as being nearly as distant. It is an endlessly fascinating spectacle to watch this film, and savour the costumes, settings, and mannerisms of the time, which are so perfectly portrayed. The apache men, and indeed many ordinary workmen such as carpenters, all wear wide pale cummerbunds wrapped around their waists, beneath which rise the high narrow waists of their otherwise baggy and billowing corduroy trousers. They wear those pull-over shirts with buttons that only go half the way down, with broad and wide open collars and baggy sleeves gathered in at the shoulders. They are as careful of their appearance as they are of their reputations for villainy and violence. The head of a gang, Leca, played by Claude Dauphin, at one points tells one of his gang to stop wearing a flat cap, as it will give the gang a bad name with the neighbours! The film opens with a scene straight out of a Renoir painting, with three long rowing boats on the Seine upstream from Paris pulling in to the shore, the men wearing boaters, and their gaily laughing girlfriends all dressed to the nines for a Sunday out. They run giggling in to a quaint outdoors riverside 'bal', a restaurant with a small band where they can do what the apaches and their gals love best: dancing with passion and style. The dancing itself is a marvel to be seen. But then we come to realize that these are not ordinary young men and women, these are gangsters and their molls. And here, the mischievous flirtation of Signoret, the most glamorous of the molls, with a handsome young stranger, sets in motion the tragic events which then proceed to unfold with bloody inevitability. The young man she fancies is played with eloquent macho silence by Serge Reggiani. It turns out that he has previously spent five years in the same prison cell with a member of the gang, who is his best friend. This sets up various conflicts of loyalty and enhances the tensions. Signoret is an expert at portraying sensual intensity while holding her head high, what might be called 'the proud whore motif'. When appearing in a film, she can turn on the inner sexual incandescence with the ease with which someone of today can click a computer mouse. All that was required was for a director to say: 'Action!' (in French, of course), and the fire would flare up in her smouldering eyes and all actors in the film had better watch out. She never has pushed any buttons for me personally, as I have always found her too heavy, solid, and masculine, but then there are a lot of men out there who like that (as witness the strange preoccupation so many British males have with Judi Dench, and before her, with Glenda Jackson, and other such potential dominatrixes whose more feminine qualities always seem to be somewhat at the ebb tide, no matter how they may glower and try to convince us that they are female by the intensity of their expressions). I have always had the uncomfortable feeling that maybe Simone Signoret was really a man. I know that is ridiculous, and I confess to being in what must be an insignificant minority on the subject. But let no one imagine that she does not set the action on fire in this film, which she does aplenty. It is such a pity that only three films by Jacques Becker (1906-1960) appear ever to have had English subtitles added to them. He was a true master of the screen, even though the French have tried to keep him as their little secret. His son is Jean Becker (born 1933), another master of the screen who carried on the family's directorial tradition by making equally riveting and desperate films.


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