In 1959,just before his death,Jacques Becker adapted for the screen,José Giovanni's "le trou" :the only Giovanni novel which gave a genuine masterpiece.So when the young Becker (Jean) emerged first as a Henri Verneuil and Julien Duvivier assistant,it was only natural that the "casque d'or" director's son teamed up with the novelist for his first effort.
This first effort is very undistinguished in its first part,but becomes better in the second half which takes place in a jail and then on a beach where the voluntary prisoners do mine clearance.The scenes in the prison were always convincing in Giovanni's screenplays ,because he 'd done time himself (see his 2000 movie "mon père ,il m'a sauvé la vie").It's an accurate depiction of a French prison circa 1960.Then the mines segment is of course suspenseful .The last fifteen minutes come as an anticlimax afterward..
Jean Becker would enjoy a lot of success with his overblown (and highly overrated) "l'été meurtrier" at the beginning of the eighties.As for Giovanni he made himself a remake of "un nommé la Rocca" in 1972:Belmondo took on his leading part,Christine Kaufman was replaced by Claudia Cardinale and Michel Constantin -who plays here a small part of an American deserter who goes racketeering the nightclubs- was cast as Xavier ,Pierre Vaneck's role.The new movie was called "la scoumoune" (= rotten luck)but did not bring anything new:highlights remain the scenes on the beach.The conclusion is slightly different .
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