Episodic portrait of a criminal, from 1934 until after the war. Roberto Borgo is tough, cool, sardonic, loyal, and deadly. He comes to Marseilles to help his friend Xavier Saratov get out ... See full summary »
In 1945, as World War Two comes to a close, five small time crooks unite to form a gang. After several bold robberies they become notorious as "the front-wheel drive gang". The police ... See full summary »
Hugo Sennart is a French Gypsy, wanted by the police for theft. The same inspector who's searching for him is also looking for a jewel thief, Yan Kuq, whose wife has died under suspicious ... See full summary »
Six months before his retirement from the criminal police, inspector Joss finds his colleague Gouvion dead, in a poorly faked suicide attempt. Joss loses his temper, and investigates on his... See full summary »
In 1930 Marseilles two small-time crooks join forces when they meet brawling over a woman. Starting with fixed horse races and fights, they start to find themselves doing jobs for the local... See full summary »
A lot like a reworking of " Les Misérables" set in modern France.
This is an interesting film in structure, as the main conflict doesn't even present itself until almost 40 minutes into the film. Up until then, it's a very nice story about an ex-con (Alain Delon) and his good friend--a social worker who befriended him in prison and has worked to help rehabilitate him (Jean Gabin). However, even though Delon is doing a great job on his parole (even after tragedy strikes)and is living an honest life, an old cop who arrested him a decade earlier has decided that it's his mission to PROVE that Delon didn't change and is just another con waiting to show his true colors! And so, doggedly, the cop seems determined to push Delon until he forces his to turn bad.
While the parallels are not perfect and the setting has been updated to modern France, this sure seemed like a reworking of the classic Victor Hugo story "Les Misérables". Like the leading man from the novel, Jean Valjean, Delon's character has changed after leaving prison and is committed to doing right. And, like Javert, the cop who suddenly enters his life will stop at nothing to prove that a man like Delon CAN'T change despite all appearances to the contrary. So, the cop harasses the man's employer, his girlfriend...any one and everyone. He brings Delon in for interrogations and pushes the man unmercifully--so much so that you assume sooner or later Delon will snap. What happens next is a bit of a shock--and makes for an exciting finale and a very compelling film.
It's interesting, by the way, that the bad cop is not the only thing in the system that conspires to keep criminals criminals. Other than Gabin, the rest of the prison officials in the film seem like reactionaries--who unintentionally perpetuate the problems through their stupidity. While this is somewhat of an over-simplification, I like this angle, as prison officials often do make the problems worse (I used to work with the prison system like Gabin's character and was amazed at how corrupt or dumb some of these men were--including come guards who were simply sadists). It's a novel approach (aside from the Hugo novel) and made the film quite compelling. Plus, it humanized Delon so much that you hurt for him and really were rooting for him throughout the film.
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