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Max is a Paris detective, aloof, independently wealthy, and frustrated by gangs of robbers whom he cannot catch. To re-establish his stature and save face, he decides to inveigle a group of petty thieves (led by an old acquaintance) to rob a bank. A reluctant captain provides Max intelligence and Max starts spending evenings with Lilly, a prostitute who's the girlfriend of the group's leader. He poses as a rich banker with money to burn and encourages Lilly to think about her future. He hints at a payroll that comes through his bank. The plot works, the petty thieves think they're ready for a big score, and the cops are in place. What could go wrong with Max's cold plan? Who's entrapped? Written by
The most sustained piece of Work of Sautet in the seventies.
Few people know it,but Claude Sautet was first a film noir connoisseur.His first work,"classes tout risques" was beating Jean -Pierre Melville at his own game;the follow-up ,"l'arme à gauche" ,is difficult to see nowadays ,but if you can ,do not think twice.
In the seventies,from "les choses de la vie" onwards,Sautet became the cinema de qualité director .I mean it pejoratively.Whereas "les choses de la vie" remains watchable today ,thanks to a sensational editing,the other works such as "Cesar et Rosalie " "Vincent François Paul et les autres" "Mado" are depicting a bourgeois life ,speaking of people "in danger of despair"(Sautet Dixit) but with an optimism that was almost unbearable in the crisis of the seventies.The screenplays became very loose,without any dramatic progression .You can sum up "Cesar et Rosalie" like this :"Rosalie loves Cesar ,but she also loves David.What will become of her ?":everything taking place in desirable mansions ,what a contemporary critic aptly called " un espace Cardin" This is two-bit psychological drama ,with ponderous symbolism,as "Mado" will confirm with its infuriating scene where the cars get boggeddown in the mud .a critic said then "it's the movie that gets bogged down itself.
"Max et les ferrailleurs " is a different matter;by combining the film noir side of the two first opus with what will be developed (in a very gauche way) in the "psychological" future films ,Sautet brings it all back home.It stands out as his most sustained piece of work in the seventies.An absolutely intriguing work,with a beautiful Romy Schneider who keeps the audience waiting,only appearing after 30 minutes.Her relationship with cop Piccoli is very shady,sometimes recalling the Fonda/Sutherland one in Pakula's "Klute" :it really stands comparison with it.A wonderful depiction of a popular milieu,in the suburbs of Paris (Nanterre) ,where the secondary characters seem to be out of a Duvivier or a Clouzot work.But it's finally the Jacques Becker spirit Sautet captures here ,and it's really too bad that,after such an interesting movie,he fell into the trap of the academic cinema de qualité.
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