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A Legitimate Defense (1958)

En légitime défense (original title)
Pierre Lambert buys a bar in Pigalle and accepts to pay "protection money" to "Bébert le Caïd", a brutal gangster. Over time, Bébert raises his fare and, realizing Pierrot is reluctant to ... See full summary »



(story) (as Berthomieu), (dialogue)


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Cast overview, first billed only:
L'inspecteur Gustave Martinet
Petit Bob
Maria Mauban ...
Philippe Nicaud ...
Pierre 'Pierrot' Lambert
Monique Tanguy ...
Rosy Varte ...
Robert Dalban ...
Albert dit 'Bébert le Caïd'
Paul Bonifas ...
Le président de la cour
Léonce Corne ...
François Darbon ...
L'avocat général
Jean Lara ...
L'avocat de Pierrot
Gisèle Robert ...
Mona Dol ...
La mère de Dora / Adrienne
Georges Hubert ...
Le commissaire de police


Pierre Lambert buys a bar in Pigalle and accepts to pay "protection money" to "Bébert le Caïd", a brutal gangster. Over time, Bébert raises his fare and, realizing Pierrot is reluctant to pay more, starts persecuting him. In the midst of an altercation with Bébert, Pierre kills him in self-defense. In a panic he goes to see Gustave Martinet, a police inspector, who has been his best friend since Pierre saved his life during the war. Gustaves advises him to turn himself over to the police, which he does. At the trial Pierre is acquitted but the mob does not forgive so easily... Written by Guy Bellinger

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

pigalle | legitimate defense | See All (2) »







Release Date:

11 June 1958 (France)  »

Also Known As:

A Legitimate Defense  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


French visa # 20445 See more »

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User Reviews

A taut french film noir.

This little gem is far more than a drama. It's a real french film noir set in Paris By Night, in the Pigalle district, the tourists in Paris know very well...

It tells the story of a bar owner who has to deal with racketeers. One night, he kills one of them in self defense. So he has to run, because he doesn't want to be accused of an ordinary murder. But he is friend with a cop - Bernard Blier - a man whom he saved life during the war. The cop brings his pal to justice, and to his trial. A fair one, as he promises to his friend. And during the trial, even the victim's friends, hoods of course, come to testify FOR the accused, and not against him, as we could expect. Do you know why? To get the accused discharge, so that... You guess the following...

As I saw this very scheme in CONTRE ENQUETE, made in 2006, starring Jean Dujardin.

I won't get any further about EN LEGITIME DEFENSE. The climax, in a garage, is exciting. It reminds me Joseph Pevney's SIX BRIDGES TO CROSS, starring Tony Curtis, or maybe I confound with another item. An American one.

Anyway, this little french thriller is perhaps old fashioned, with french slang from the fifties, but it is certainly not charmless.

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