Burglar Maurice Faugel has just finished his sentence. He murders Gilbert Vanovre, a receiver, and steals the loot of a break-in. He is also preparing a house-breaking, and his friend ... See full summary »
Corey is a cool, aristocratic thief, released from prison on the same day that Vogel, a murderer, escapes from the custody of the patient Mattei, a cat-loving police superintendent. Corey ... See full summary »
Burglar Maurice Faugel has just finished his sentence. He murders Gilbert Vanovre, a receiver, and steals the loot of a break-in. He is also preparing a house-breaking, and his friend Silien brings him the needed equipment. But Silien is a police informer ... A movie whose "all characters are two-faced, all characters are false", according to director Jean-Pierre Melville. Written by
More often than not, French gangster films that owe so much to early American gangster films come off as cakes with more icing than cake. This is not the case with Jean-Pierre Melville, whose Bob le Flambeur is a powerful tale of a compulsive gambler who attempts to right his own life and the lives of those he cares for. In Le Doulos, the story focuses on a gangster, Maurice, just released from prison who immediately gets back on the other side of the law and begins to get involved in the ever-constant struggle between French police and organized crime.
This film obviously owes a great deal to early American gangster films, as so much of Melville does, but what makes it slightly different is the complexity of character and plot Melville injects into the story. There are numerous layers of action going on here; each character is as duplicitous as possible so motivations are always in question and the audience never really can tell who exactly is on which side until the final conclusion. Yet, it is never too confusing and never dull to watch as Melville invites us to explore closer the beautiful fluid camera work and the stunning and stark cinematography.
The acting is also quite effective, especially Serge Reggiani as the world-worn Maurice whose face says more than anything else, and French cinema legend Jean-Paul Belmondo as the too cool for his own good Silien. All in all, a very entertaining and well-made caper thriller that compared to today's shoot 'em ups consists of more than enough cake with the right amount of icing as well.
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