Touchez Pas au Grisbi (1954) Poster

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Gangsters In Their Pajamas
Xploitedyouth12 March 2006
For fans of American gangster films, Jacque Becker's TOUCHEZ PAS AU GRISBI may seem like a radical departure from the violence and excess of films like THE GODFATHER and GOODFELLAS. It's a quiet film about quiet men, living out their golden years in a dignified manner. Much of the film is spent watching Max (Jean Gabin) as he dines with friends, cavorts with his mistresses and listens to his favorite tune on his old record player. The amazing thing about the film is that there's never any question that Max can be a dangerous man. There's a famous scene where Max and his long-time partner Riton (Rene Dary) eat pate, set up their sleeping quarters, dress in their pajamas and go to sleep without exchanging a word. There's an amazing, soft tension playing through this entire scene. Riton has screwed up a business deal, as he has done many times in the past, and Max is getting fed up. I was reminded throughout this scene of the famous line from GOODFELLAS about assassins coming as friends. This certainly would have been the right time for Max to whack Riton, if that were what he wanted. But he doesn't, because honor and loyalty are important aspects of Max's life, and he will protect his friend even though their big retirement job may be jeopardized. Max is, quite simply, the least Americanized gangster in film history, and he's a remarkable character. Jean Gabin solidifies his reputation as the greatest French film actor of all time through subtlety, nuance, and natural charisma. The film itself is painted with the rich black-and-white brush strokes of the best film noir, and truly succeeds in transporting the viewer to another place and time. A genuine, under-appreciated masterpiece.
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Dark, gritty and superbly executed
MartinHafer26 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Sometimes actors never know when to quit--playing youthful roles long after they are obviously too old to realistically carry off the character. However, in a brave move, actor Jean Gabin plays a role of an older man who is simply tired and ready to call it quits on his life of crime. Gabin was 50 years-old when he made this film and, if anything, looks a good bit older than that--looking more like a man of 60. It was refreshing to see him playing such an unglamorous role.

Max (Gabin) is a very cool guy. His manners are pretty effortless and he is a big man in the underworld. However, despite being "on top", he's very tired of the life and longs for retirement. Unknown to the other thugs, Max and his friend (Riton) committed a huge heist of 50,000.000 francs in gold a year earlier. That's because Max is smart--real smart. Instead of running away or spending the money, he just sat tight and did nothing to tip his hand. His contingency plans were brilliant as well and he seemed to have covered every base. Too bad that Riton wasn't quite as smart, as a "dame" weaseled this secret out of him and told another crook--who now is determined to get the gold. When Riton is captured, what will Max do? Will he leave his old friend or will he give up the gold to ransom Riton? And, even if he does surrender the loot, what then?!

The film did a great job creating a Film Noir ambiance that is uniquely French. In the 50s, the French began imitating American Noir but often they made it uniquely their own--with grittier dialog (with much spicier language), a bit of nudity and a sharper edge. Aside from TOUCHEZ PAS AU GRISBI ("Don't Touch the Loot"), other such French films as BOB LE FLAMBEUR ("Bob the Gambler") and RIFIFI proved that in some ways, even, the French could do Noir better--achieving a certain realistic sleaziness that American censors wouldn't allow. For example, when Bob grabs a showgirl's breast backstage, you know this sure ain't a Hollywood film of the 50s! Overall, there's nothing not to like about the film. A very taut yet leisurely script, excellent acting and a dynamite finale--this film is terrific.
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Classic French noir
evileyereviews30 August 2010
This masterpiece of French noir exemplifies the depth of friendship and honor between thieves in this classic. The protagonist and his partner could not be more different, but through the years they have developed a friendship beyond mere love, a friendship cemented in the trenches of criminal warfare and not to be trifled with. The plot's treachery is utilized to effect as the polar opposite of this eternal bond, a bond which is best elucidated with some of the more mundane aspects of life. This bond is also compared with the superficial love between the sexes, where men love their woman only during the act of love. The acting was sublime, with heavies Jean Gabin, Lino Ventura, as well as some mightily proportioned women to grace the eyes. The direction and camera work were wonderful, and the score was the perfect compliment to the darker side of life. Genruk' Evil Eye Reviews
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A true classic
boardwalk_angel23 May 2005
"Grisbi" is a true classic...... Highly influential French noir/crime thriller/drama....shamefully obscure & undeservedly overlooked until now...Criterion DVD finally released in January....actually kinda ruined my evening..I had planned on watching another movie after this one..but I didn't want to let this one out of my head yet, was that good. 1954 Paris sparkles in glorious black & white..Jean Gabin & the whole cast, including a very young & relatively unknown Jeanne Moreau, is wonderful..Jacque Becker's direction is impeccable.

The great Jean Gabin stars as Max , an aging gangster, who, along with his longtime friend & partner , Riton , has pulled one last job and intends to retire as soon as it's safe to cash in the millions in gold bullion they have stolen. Max is an anachronism...his style, moral code, honor & ways are caught up in changing times...a theme that fans of some of the best American Westerns will recognize in this film...

It'a an absorbing , character-driven story...leading to a lonely highway with guns drawn ..trying to keep from losing everything. Highly recommended.
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Wonderful gangster-story by Jacques Becker
pzanardo22 November 2002
It would be nonsense to give an order of merit to the three cinematic masterpieces by director Jacques Becker. However, personally I love "Touchez pas au grisbi" even more than "Casque d'or" or "Le Trou". In "Touchez pas au grisbi" we find all we can ask from a Becker's film: splendid black-and-white cinematography, evocative, romantic atmosphere, brilliant script, stunning excellence of the actors' job. But here we get more: a tough, perfectly written gangster-story, swift pace and action blended with an outstanding psychological design.

The movie is mainly a story of friendship and honor. We have two old pals, two aged gangsters close to retire: Max (Jean Gabin), smart and clever, well aware that their best years are over, and Riton (Rene Dary), naive and rash, unable to accept the end of their youth, even dumb if you want, but extremely brave and devoted to his friend. Max is constantly grumbling against Riton and the troubles he causes. He scorns Riton's courage... brains and good sense, that's the important thing... But when it's the time for action, we see how deep and touching their friendship is, how ready they are to sacrifice themselves for each other. In other words, there are circumstances when only courage and honor count...

According to his usual style, Becker describes the world of criminals as a weird parallel of the world of "decent people". To be a gangster appears a job like another: a day at the office. See Max's poise and professional way, when he negotiates the value of the "grisbi" (the swag) with the receiver. And when Max is going to face a last-blood gang-war, he quietly leaves a large sum of money to a trusted bar-maid, in case of need "... to tip somebody (i.e. police or judges)... to fix possible problems... you know better..."

Inside a story narrated in the most understated way, Becker inserts unexpected explosions of violence. Take the owner of the Night Club, another old pal of Max's and Riton's. Poised, always silent, short, fat, with thick glasses, he seems the less harmful person. Yet, suddenly, and without a single word of comment, he starts to brutally beat a thug from a rival gang. And, with the machine-gun, he shows himself even tougher than Max and Riton.

Of course, the movie also offers a Gabin's trade-mark scene, when he slaps everybody, men and women as well. Great stuff: toughness mixed with sense of humour. Gabin's performance is at the highest level reached in a glorious career.

What else to add? "Touchez pas au grisbi" is a fantastic masterpiece. Moreover, I guess that this film is good for all tastes , which probably can't be said for other Becker's cinematic gems.
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Paris by night
jotix10012 December 2005
Jacques Becker 1954 "Touchez pas au grisbi" is a delight to watch. M. Becker was an artist that knew what to give his fans, as he clearly shows in this masterful account about the gangsters operating in Paris during the fifties. Becker and his cinematographer, Pierre Montazel, brought the cameras to the streets as we are taken to savor that underworld they operated from. The jazzy score by Jean Wiener works well in the film. The film shows us the bygone Paris of that period, beautifully photographed by M. Montazel in all its splendor.

At the center of it all is Max, the older gangster who suddenly begins feeling the toll of his years living dangerously and is contemplating retirement after he, and his partner, Riton, get rid of the gold bars they have stolen from a shipment at Orly airport. Max and Riton are seen at the beginning of the film dining at Chez Bouche with two younger women, Josy and Lola, who are chorus girls in the night club that seems to be the venue where these characters like to frequent.

Things get complicated when Josie tells the newly arrived Angelo about what Max and Riton have and the trouble starts as he wants to get to the stolen goods for his own benefit. Thus begins a conflict between two different factions of the underground that will end badly. Max's plans for retirement with the proceeds of the sale of the stolen gold will have to wait.

The best thing about the film is the uncanny way M. Becker and his collaborators reproduce that era for us. The world of the night clubs, restaurants, watering places, apartments, and other places where these characters move, are faithfully recreated for our pleasure in the movie. This film noir influenced a lot of other movies that came after, as Becker's influence inspired future movie makers.

Jean Gabin, probably the best French actor of all times makes us like his Max, even though we realize he is a criminal. M. Gabin is the whole reason for taking a look at this film that he dominates at all times. Rene Dary, is seen as Max's partner in crime, Riton. Jeanne Moreau in one of her earlier films shows why she went to be one of the stars of the French cinema. Her Josie is excellent. Also in the cast, the fabulous Lino Ventura who plays Angelo. Denise Clair plays Mme. Bouche and Dora Doll is Lola.

"Touchez pas au grisbi" will not disappoint Becker's fans.
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influential French film noir
rdoyle2919 September 2003
The title of this French film noir is slang for "loot". Jean Gabin stars as racketeer Max. Seeking out the finer things in life, Max intends to pull one last job and retire. After stealing a fortune in gold, our hero is faced with a crisis of conscience when his best friend (Rene Dary) is kidnapped and held for a huge ransom, the proceeds of this last job. Max manages to turn the tables on the abductors, but his dreams of a life of ease explode in his face. Up-and-coming leading lady Jeanne Moreau plays a pivotal role as the femme fatale who leads Dary into the hands of his kidnappers.

An intriguing film that inverts many of the film noir cliches. The heist which drives the film's plot has already occurred when the film starts, which has the effect of shifting the film's focus from the crime itself to the consequences of leading a life of crime. The characters are portrayed less like criminals than businessmen, calmly going about the business of earning a living. As a result, the few scenes of violence that occur are more shocking than they would be in a more routine crime film. An intriguing film that clearly influenced subsequent French crime films, especially Jules Dassin's "Rififi" and Jean-Pierre Melville's "Bob le Flambeur".
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Superb French Noir
Prof-Hieronymos-Grost9 December 2006
Max(Jean Gabin) is a gentleman gangster with a penchant for nice suits and champagne and the brains of the criminal partnership, the other being his long time friend and partner in crime, Riton (René Dary),"the muscle" so to speak of their partnership, together they have just pulled off a substantial heist and are now 50 million francs better off in gold bars. Max likes the easy life of night clubs and restaurants, he isn't greedy and now intends to retire with his fortune, Riton agrees, but he inadvertently tells his young night club dancer girlfriend Josy (Jeanne Moreau)of his large stash of Grisbi(Loot/Swag), she has been two timing him with the much younger and very ambitious crook Angelo, Josy of course informs him and using this knowledge Angelo sets out to take it from Max. Max suspicious that he is being followed confides in Riton that something is about to happen,he also tells his old friend how he discovered Josy's infidelity, Riton is furious and leaves Max's safe haven to take revenge on his younger adversary.Riton ends up in a trap and is kidnapped by Angelo, demanding Max release the gold as ransom. Touchez pas au grisbi isn't so much an action crime flic as it is a no action one, we never get to see the heist or the every day violence of the criminal fraternity, Becker's film is much more about the silences between the crimes and the everyday mundaneness of the criminals life, their conversations, their dining habits etc… this ploy is all the more effective when the film explodes at its climax with the type of violence you would expect of a typical Crime film. A forerunner of Dassin's Rififi or more obviously Melville's Bob Le Flambeur, Touchez pas au Grisbi is a fine film that some might find a little dull, but its romantic vision of Parisien criminal lives is still very intriguing and a welcome alternative to the stereotypical hoods of the genre. Gabin is nothing short of superb as the aging gangster, willing to give up his position and power for the easy life, his relationship with his loyal friend Riton is more like that of a married couple who are still friends after many years together but ultimately wonder why they ever got together, we are only given one glimpse of Max's rage towards his friend in a brief voice over, where Max lets fly at his companions stupidity, that might cost them both their lives and their Grisbi, other than that Max is a cool operator, nothing fazes him, even as the plot thickens and a quick response is required to save Riton's life, Max is just as easy going as he always is, he might just as easily be at home brushing his teeth or folding his pyjamas again, we never quite know what Max is thinking. The understated pate eating scene is superbly orchestrated by Becker ,there is hardly any dialogue but through gestures and eye movements, we learn an awful lot about their relationship…..Touchez pas au Grisbi in the hands of Becker is both elegant and evocative and a pleasure to behold and as French Noir goes its right up there with the best.
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Becker's World View
palmiro15 February 2004
Like his masterpiece, 'Le trou', this film embodies Becker's distinctive vision of the world. We are given a portrait of a bond of love between two men--a kind of love which is beyond anything a man and a woman can know. But this is not Oscar Wilde's 'love which dare not speak its name': there is no hint of homoerotic sexuality. Rather, this is the bond of the trenches and the workplace (presumably class and underworld trenches in the case of the protagonists), a theme which has a tremendous atavistic resonance in French culture and history insofar as it reflects a collective male experience extending from the Napoleonic Wars through the Paris Commune down through WWI--the kind of camaraderie for life which predisposed a man to sacrifice all that he holds dear for another man (another instance of this is in Jean Vermillon's 'Gueule d'amour'), and hinted at in a sentimental, nuanced way when Max breaks out the foie gras and a bottle of blanc after his buddy has made a costly bonehead move. Note also that incredible sigh of utter lassitude that 'Max' (Jean Gabin) heaves as he sits through yet another girly show--or that look on his face as 'Betty' asks him if he loves her (after he's slept with her)--a look which tells us his every thought is on his pal, 'Riton'. This is not to say that women are portrayed throughout in a disparaging light: "Mme. Bouche", the owner of the restaurant and 'Marinette', the nightclub owner's wife (a wonderfully subtle portrait of uxorial solicitude and anxiety) are both characters who reinforce and serve male solidarity. But there's the suggestion that when the male/female bond involves sexuality, a guy can lose his head and forget about his mates.

This male/female divide appears to overshadow class divisions, which were to be at the heart of Becker's 'Le trou.' Still we can see Becker's communist sympathies coming through in oblique ways. Max is the engaging, attractive character that he is because of his fierce devotion to others, his liberality of spirit (after he leaves a huge tip to the petit-bourgeois owner of the cafe' in the process of recycling leftover wine, the latter remarks, 'We could use more customers like him'), the value he places on his pal's life over the loot, the easy way he has with trusting and receiving the trust of others--all these things are non-commercial values and they suggest a world and way of life alternative to what America has in store for France. Note, for example, how the camera lingers on the road sign at the scene of the first shootout: 'Autoroute a' l'ouest', 'Expressway to the west'. It's the same road Max and his pals rush down and that takes them straight to the disaster with the loot. The promise of riches that America ('the West') tantalizingly dangled before the French in the form of the Marshall Plan was not to be taken up without heavy costs. Pauvre Max: in the end he cannot cry at the loss of his buddy (though I cried for him): he cannot express his grief because he is now in the company of "Betty", his American doll and source of support (fittingly played by a real-life Miss America of 1946).

Sure made me feel as though I should have spent more of my life in France.
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Honor, Friendship and Gold
claudio_carvalho7 February 2015
The middle age bon-vivant Max (Jean Gabin) is a former gangster and close friend of his partner Riton (René Dary). They have stolen eight gold bars of 12 kg each that worth 50-million francs and Max has kept them hidden for their retirement. Riton's mistress Josy (Jeanne Moreau) is tired of him and has found a new lover to support her, Angelo (Lino Ventura), who is a dangerous gangster. Riton has made a comment to Josy about the gold and soon Angelo discovers that Max and Riton have the stolen gold. He abducts Riton to force Max to give the gold to him. Will Max exchange his gold for Riton?

"Touchez pas au grisbi" is a classy French-Italian production with a great story of honor and friendship. The pace is capable to detail a scene like, for example, Max and Riton brushing their teeth without being boring. Max is an interesting character and it is delightful to see his reactions and tranquility towards any situation, his code of honor and his face in the end after receiving the phone call with the bad news. It is also impressive how beautiful and sexy the actresses are. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "Grisbi, Ouro Maldito" ("Grisbi, Cursed Gold")
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Touchez-pas AA Grisbi
markku-oksanen-21 April 2006
This movie is undoubtedly the best movie in the world ever. I've seen it about 10 times over the years, and every time it is fresh and fascinating. It's so beautiful but bad story about friendship and betrayal between two elderly gangsters, but it is also a story about aging and disappointment.

Jean Gabin's performance is the crowning jewel of this gem of a film. An extra bonus is a young Jeanne Moreau as a cabaret dancer. The final gunfight still stands strong among today's cg-filled action scenes. Definitely the pinnacle of Jacques Becker's work, but don't forget the marvelous Golden Helmet (Casque d'or) and The Night Watch (Le Trou).
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A mon age, on ne fait plus sa vie
antcol82 September 2012
Warning: Spoilers
This is my favorite film.

No way do I think it's the BEST film (although it would be on my Top 100)

But the older I get, the more GRISBI speaks to me, with its portrait of aging, friendship, subculture...

And it touches me - down deep.

I went back and purchased DVDs of some of the great Gabin films of the '30s: Pépé le Moko, Le Jour Se Lève, La Bête Humaine. I believe that the more you know how beautiful and feral Gabin was in the '30s, the more touching it is to see him in his pajamas, brushing his teeth, listening to his favorite harmonica record.

There are millions of "One Last Heist" films if we want to talk about GENRE.

But this film is on a whole other level.

Max/Gabin is exhausted, but this is the only life he knows. He plays the game - flirting, love making, slapping, shooting, escaping...He's still spry - he can still do it. Sometimes he still even seems to enjoy it.

The film is about what it's about, but it can also be seen as an analogy for many things. Gabin himself still doing it, not least of all.

We all have to keep doing it when it's the only life we know.

Another cliché: sex is rushed and provisional, and the real love exists between two men.

But Becker lavishes so much detail and care on the relationship between Max and his friend Riton that the clichés are transcended.

Besides, the relationship between Max and Riton is also based on an inequality. There is a constant assertion of Max's superiority and dominance over Riton:

"What would you do in my place, Max?"

"I'll never be in your place, you poor sot!"

Is sex, in fact, no more than just another DUTY, just another part of the construction of the Tough Guy persona for Max? Look at the scene where he has his afternoon assignation with his classy yet sexy American lover:

(she,from the bedroom)

"Vous m'aimez, Max?"

(he,outside the bedroom,thinks of Riton,lights a cigarette)


(he walks back in)

The economy. The derision.

The film ends with the kind of fatalistic trope that I, rightly or wrongly, associate with The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. At least I guess that was the first place where I really encountered it. Everything is risked. Everything is lost.

It has been done. Before and since. But none of that changes the poignancy and power of the way that it's done here.

In the end, in order to keep going in spite of all sorts of losses, Max must continue to perform. All of his roles. A virtuoso performance, in the end as in the beginning.

He goes to the mob hangout restaurant with the American babe, he mingles,he plays his favorite harmonica tune on the jukebox one more time.

La Vie Continue

A virtuoso performance by Max AND by Gabin. And by Jacques Becker.
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A film of brilliant details
runamokprods25 December 2011
As Truffaut stated, this is really more a film about friendship and aging than about gangsters.

Jean Gabin is brilliant as Max, the elegant, dignified underworld leader who is growing tired, and wants to retire quietly off his last score. This is a film that lives in the brilliant human details. We never see the big heist itself – it's already over when the film starts. But we do see Gabin brushing his teeth, looking at the bags under his eyes in the mirror, etc.

Now it's all about finding a way to close the books on a career, and still protect his best friend and colleague, who becomes a target when other mobsters want to get their hands on the take.

The story itself could be called thin, but Becker fills it with so many telling human moments and details that I was touched and involved.

Yes, there were a few places where the plot, logic, or motivation holes bugged me just a touch. However, I suspect I'll warm to this even further on a eagerly anticipated second viewing.
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Holds up well
bandw18 June 2011
Warning: Spoilers
For a movie that is more than a half century old this is surprisingly engaging. It proves that primary interest is driven by story rather than special effects.

Jean Gabin plays Max, a fifty year old man who wants to get out of the crime business after having netted some 200 pounds of gold in a recent heist. Max has the gold stored away and a connection to fence the goods. This is an interesting twist for the start of a crime movie--the big heist has already taken place. But, not to worry, Max's partner in crime, Riton, leaks the information about the gold to his woman friend Josy (played by a young Jeanne Moreau); Josy deserts Riton and takes up with Angelo, a local drug dealer. Angelo finds out about the gold from Josy and the game is on as to who will wind up with the loot.

Gabin plays Max as the ultimate sophisticated and cool character and Riton is Max's lovable but more impulsive sidekick. Riton and Max have been together for over twenty years and there is clear affection between them--Max refers to Riton as "Porcupine Head." Their friendship is central to the story. There are scenes that I think make this movie unique in the annals of crime drama. For example, when Max and Riton retire to Max's secret apartment to discuss the situation vis-à-vis Angelo, what we get is a quite domestic scene. Instead of yelling at Riton about his lack of discipline the two sit down and talk over wine, pâté, and crackers. Later Max brings out bedclothes for Riton and in separate scenes we watch Max and then Riton brush his teeth, not a common occurrence in crime dramas. I can't imagine any of these scenes being in a contemporary movie, but here they effectively illustrate the closeness between the two friends.

The print on the Criterion Collection DVD is without blemish. I imagine no small effort went into restoring the original.

The story unfolds at a pace to keep your interest. There are no showy camera angles or other arty effects, but there is some nice black and white photography.

I found the ending most satisfying.
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A true masterpiece
bensonmum21 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I feel so inadequate even attempting to discuss this movie. But I'll give it a try. For those who haven't seen Touchez pas au grisbi, it's the story of an aging gangster named Max (played to perfection by Jean Gabin). With the help of his partner Riton (also played to perfection by René Dary), Max has just pulled off the biggest caper of his career and is now set to retire. But a few of the other local thugs have other ideas. They kidnap Riton and offer to a trade him for the loot.

While that may be the five sentence review of the plot's highlights, the robbery and subsequent kidnapping are hardly what the movie is all about. These are merely devices to push the plot along. Instead, Touchez pas au grisbi is about the never ending friendship between two people. It's about willing to forfeit a fortune if it means saving your best friend. It's about their day-to-day lives, the nightclubs they visit, the women they use, and, in one of the more bizarre moments, even their dental hygiene habits. While it hardly sounds glamorous, it's one of the more compelling movies I've seen recently. Max's life pulled me in to the point that it almost seemed real. Director Jacques Becker lets the viewer really get to know these two guys so that later on when the pair finds themselves in danger, we feel for them.

Touchez pas au grisbi may not be action-packed, but when the violence does come, it's jolting in its abruptness. While the shootout near the end of the film is an obvious example, there's a moment earlier on in the movie that shows how abrupt and effective the violence in Touchez pas au grisbi is. Max has located Riton's girlfriend who he believes to be at least partially responsible for Riton's kidnapping. Up to this point, with a few very minor and brief exceptions, Max has hardly seemed capable of excessive violence. Up to this point, he's come across almost as a kindly Grandfather. But when Max confronts the girlfriend, we see what he is capable of. The rough manner in which he handles everyone in the room, including repeatedly slapping the girl to get the information he's after, is quite shocking. It's a scene that's very nicely done.

In the end, Touchez pas au grisbi is a true masterpiece that deserves all the accolades it has received. I know it's one of the best movies I've ever seen.
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Lost loot
Polaris_DiB1 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
"Touchez pas au grisbi" begins somewhat in media res, in that the defining moment that leads to the rest of the story--the theft of the grisbi (loot)--happens before the cameras even begin running. This is a film not really about the events that take place within the narrative, but the moments that define the characters between those events: the mobsters brushing their teeth, sitting and eating, discussing their lives.

Jean Gabin stars as another aged, ennui-filled mobster, this time a little older and a little more tired than ol' Pepe le Moko. Everything in his role is pure class... a man tired of the fast and frivolous days and just wanting to retire to a quiet life with a woman who's not a showgirl. Unfortunately the blunderous activities of his partner-in-crime keep him trapped in the usual gangster world of deceit, double-crossings, and danger.

This movie fits closely to Becker's attempt to create a film "without a beginning or an end, and with little plot in between." Most of the character development in this movie is implied, though very well. A sense of fullness, and history, of experience pervades every character in this movie as if this were the third Godfather movie or some piece of a serial about people the audience knows well, however most of these characters are pretty much introduced at random and leave just as readily. Most of what works within this film is the quieter moments when the characters are left to be themselves, not what others demand in them.

This movie has been called very influential, but it's not without its own influences. As stated above, Gabin's performance is somewhat related to the fatigued gangster of such films as "Pepe le Moko", and it's not without its moments of film noir style lighting.

Another hugely influential part of this movie is its score, which is actually very minimalistic and reserved. Max's favorite song, the one he plays on the jukebox, is played in pieces throughout most of the movie and most of the time during a moment when Max loses control of the events currently surrounding him. It's a mournful, nostalgic tune... and I also can't help but think that it has to be in some way an inspiration to the Godfather movie score.

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Friendship is the uncut gem
animala6 November 2005
Warning: Spoilers
The movie is a story of friendship that lasts.

Max (Jean Gabin)is an ageing gangster, and indeed from early on the weighty and slowing down feeling of age is a daily preoccupation for Max. The opening scene is a view of the day's newspaper announcing that 50 million in gold bullion is still missing. Clearly Max has something to do with it.

Max and his best pal, the similarly ageing Riton have young girlfriends who evidently engage in prostitution and drugs. In the opening scene Max is holding court at a local restaurant which is apparently closed to outsiders. max is clearly the man of influence, the man with the money. the "godfather" in his small fiefdom. Much of the set up of the entire story is allowing the viewer to see the day to day world of gangster middle management. The ordinary things that Max and co. do is really unique including discussing food, body functions and relationships personal and professional.

Something is not all well at the "office". WHile Max and Riton are clearly honorable amongst their own, this is not practiced by all in their sphere as it is clear for some reason armed men associated with the club they frequent are trying to trap them. And as we find out, all know the "loot" is missing and Max is likely to have it, and many will do questionable and murderous things to try to get the info on its whereabouts.

Look for Jeanne Moreau as the heartless and duplicitous Josy--she's fantastic.

A non-pretentious look at the gangster world with some unexpected and somewhat shocking scenes of violence.

Some hilarious translation in the Criterion subtitles like "Those babes are a real health hazard" and "you expect thanks for causing a flap in my hen house".

Becker outdid himself in this film--every person in the movie was significant, all direction perfect.
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"Go and hunt for snails."
morrison-dylan-fan3 June 2016
Warning: Spoilers
After picking up auteur film maker Jacques Becker's Casque d'Or,I remembered that I had gotten hold of another Becker Film Noir ages ago,that I've never got round to watching.Finding the title in a DVD folder,I got set to once again enter Becker's Film Noir world.

The plot:

Stealing bars of gold,gentlemen gangsters Max Menteur and pal Henri Riton get set for the perfect retirement.Despite knowing the rules of the land,Max reveals to his mistress Josey about the robbery.Unknown to Max,Josey has recently become the lover of up- coming gangster Angelo Fraiser.Learning about the robbery,Fraiser and his gang decide to show the gentlemen gangsters that a new group rule the land.

View on the film:

Showing not one drop of sweat (even by burning cars!) Jean Gabin gives an incredible performance as Max le Menteur,whose time in the Film Noir shadows Gabin shows to have given Max a burning confidence in getting the job done in a minimalist,deadly manner. Creeping up on Max, Lino Ventura gives a cool as ice performance as Angelo Fraiser,with Ventura gleefully biting Fraiser's viciousness,whilst the stunning Jeanne Moreau heats up the screen as sharp-witted Femme Fatale Josey.

Taken from the pages of Albert Simonin's book,the screenplay by co- writer/(along with Maurice Griffe and Simonin) director Jacques Becker covers every corner of the movie in cracking dialogue,which grinds with near the knuckle gangster one liners with a delicate thoughtfulness expressing the world-weariness Max is carrying.Along with the explosive dialogue,the writers superbly build upon Becker's major themes,where Max is haunted by doubts over loyalty in the Film Noir world, and also well aware of being a lone voice outcast against Fraiser's crowd.

Keeping Max's suits pin-sharp,director Becker & cinematographer Pierre Montazel brilliantly keep a close eye for when dialogue is not needed,which allows ultra-stylish, winding staircase shoot-outs and looming shadows over Max's professional daily routine to blossom on screen.Raining down with bullets,Becker strikes a pristine balance in keeping Max's exchanges heating up a tense Film Noir atmosphere which boils over,as Max's hopes and gold melts away.
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Nostalgia of old times
franzgehl8 July 2001
Old gangsters want to hide their "grisbi" (the booty in french slang language) from another gang. They have to face the competition from a younger local caïd (Lino Ventura). More than a gangster, it tells the friendship between men and the vanishing of the old world and its honorous gangsters. A special attention to the harmonica music which suits here very well.
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Over-The-Hill Gang In Paris
GManfred27 August 2012
Max and Riton are ageing gangsters who are trying to 'retire' after their latest big heist. Early on in a night club scene, Max intimates he would rather go home and sleep as he is tiring of night-clubbing and the late hours. Riton, his best and oldest friend, is trying to stay youthful, although unknown to him, he is getting cuckolded by a younger man right there at the club.

The bond between the friends is insoluble, even though they grouse inwardly about each other. If you ever had a lifetime friend, you will instantly connect with these two - you will just know the link. Anyway, without giving too much away, another crook wants to muscle in on their windfall with an undeserved split via the extortion route. That's all I can tell you, but get the DVD.

Max (played by the great Jean Gabin) has a secret pad, and to avoid trouble, invites Riton to stay overnight. These two are such old friends that, in a scene as humorous as it is tinged with melancholy, Max produces a pair of pajamas and a toothbrush for his old pal (remember sleepovers with a friend?).

The film takes a while to get underway, and all the action is toward the end of the picture, but you can overlook the pacing as it is an unforgettable homage to friendship and advancing age. Adding to the generational disconnect is the use of obsolete slang, as when Max calls someone 'Daddy-O' (Actually, it must have fit better in its initial release in 1954, but seems completely out-of-date now).

"Touchez Pas Au Grisbi" plays like a film noir/buddy picture and is thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining, Film buffs may recognize Jean Moreau as Riton's unfaithful girlfriend.
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League Of Gentlemen
writers_reign27 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
It's a great pity that Marty Scorcese didn't catch this before embarking on a series of raw, brutal, in-yer-face gangster movies in which the likes of De Niro and Pesci rant like lunatics and call it acting. Here Jacques Becker delivers a gangster flick that is - wait for it - Subtle and Jean Gabin illustrates yet again that in screen acting less is more. Indeed Becker started something of a trend in French cinema with this entry for the very next year Jean-Pierre Melville weighed in with Bob, Le Flambeur, another underworld-setting film where violence is not of the scenery-chewing type. Were it not for the 'profession' of Max and Riton this could almost get under the wire as a comedy of manners or social commentary as Becker recreates lovingly and in great detail the milieu of the demi-monde in 50s Paris (like Bob, Le Flambeur, it begins with an Establishing Shot of Pigalle) and it's something of a master-stroke to begin the story AFTER Max and Riton have heisted a fortune in gold bars and stashed it away so that when we are introduced to them they could be part of a well-dressed group celebrating a family occasion - wedding, engagement, anniversary etc - rather than a seriously successful heist - even when Max reads about the score in a newspaper he gives no indication that he was the mastermind behind it. Of course conflict is called for and it arrives in the shape of Josie (Jeanne Moreau in an early role) the showgirl girlfriend of Riton who is tiring of him and prepared to switch her allegiance to Angelo (Lino Ventura in his impressive debut role), head of a rival gang, via putting him in the picture about the recent score. To cut to the chase Ventura's mob kidnap Riton and offer to trade him for the gold but in between Becker offers us a fascinating glimpse of a Parisian subculture where loyalty and friendship mean more than gold. As dbmonteuil said in another context on these boards (referring to Duvivier and Godard) I'd trade ALL of Marty Scorcese's crudeness for the elegance of this one.
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A "grisbi" all of its own, ahaha!
sc803127 December 2008
There's nothing exceptionally profound about the story to "Touchez pas au grisbi", one of Jacques Becker's later films -- but it sets up tons of film archetypes and patterns that later French Noir would emulate. Jean Gabin plays Max, an aging criminal set to retire with his friend, Ritan, when they're pushed into a state of paranoia by younger gangsters moving in on their retirement loot (their "grisbi").

The film is not overtly flashy, but Max is one bad dude, expressed by the way he commands universal respect from his peers, patrons and the younger ladies who surround him. In fact, his musky appeal is hilarious in contrast with his romantically bumbling partner, as is the way he overtly womanizes (notice that none of the women in this film are wearing a bra!).

There are only a handful of sets to the film, and a few outdoor scenes. The action happens suddenly and violently, which makes it much more jarring, and the themes of brotherly loyalty are expressed as both frustrating and endearing bonds, but with more nuanced definition than you might expect from such a straight-forward film. And to boot, there are some recognizable classic talents in this film, including Lino Ventura and Jeanne Moreau.

While not explosive and over-the-top, the story, set-up and exposition of the gangster code are all the result of top-notch cinematic craftsmanship. The music is minimalist, the camera-work is easy on the eyes, and the characters are fun to watch. Half-goofily endearing and half-starkly serious, but mostly brilliant, Touchez pas au grisbi is a lot of fun.
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A new thrill running down French cinema...
ElMaruecan8214 May 2020
In his pre-war career, Jean Gabin was the greatest French actor of his generation, the living incarnation of a youthful but not immature ardor, a tough and no-nonsense approach to life, a hardened tenacity à la French, all combined with a "Lady Killer" face. With directors such as Duvivier and Carné, he became the figurehead of the poetic realism genre, perhaps French cinema's finest hour, from 1935 to 1939.

But war broke up and Gabin took part to the war effort along the Allies (the right side). When he was back, his hair became grayer, and he looked much older than his actual age. And then started a long slump in his career where he lost his way in forgettable dramas and tear-jerkers. Meanwhile, audiences were thrilled by Jean Marais and laughing with Fernandel. It took Jacques Becker to finally understand the new appeal of Gabin and by adapting Antoine Simonin's level, started his second career as the aging leader (after the romantic antihero and before the white-haired patriarch). The film was "Touchez pas au Grisbi" (Don't Touch the Loot).

And Max is the perfect alter-ego to Gabin, an world-weary hoodlum who just committed his greatest crime before retirement, stealing eight golden ingots from Orly with his friend and partner Riton (René Dary); That Gabin is still a Ladies' Man, attracting voluptuous burlesque dancers and sexy secretaries, tough enough to distribute a few slaps here and principled enough not to abandon his friend. Still, the film doesn't overplay these traits. Max is blasé about his sex-appeal, not quite obsessed with women, only his job and his friends matter.

The film features a long sequence when we seem him opening a bottle, pouring a good wine to him and Riton, cracking a toast, smearing the pâté as meticulously as if they were cracking a safe. And then we see him putting on his pajamas and brushing his teeth. It's not meant to make him look ordinary but to insist that he doesn't let himself distracted by girls, unlike Riton, his total opposite. Riton blabbed to his girlfriend Josy (Jeanne Moreau) about the heist, an information she gave to her new boyfriend Angelo (Lino Ventura), and last time I saw such an epic slap, it was between Steve McQueen and Ali McGraw in "The Getaway". Anyway, Riton is the square one, the softie, not even able to see when he's lured into a trap and in a way, there's something of the slipping Gabin in that Riton, his streak of failing melodramas might have killed his career if Becker didn't find him a tailor-made role.

But Becker did more than putting Gabin's career in the right track, he started a new one and not the least. Lino Ventura was a wrestling matches organizer when he was offered the role of the heavy Angelo. He never pictured himself as an actor and turned down the offer first. He hadn't made up his mind when he came to meet Jean Gabin in the set, it took Becker's son to take him to Gabin's dressing room. When the two men met, Gabin said "How are you?" Ventura said "fine" and Gabin concluded with "well, see you later". That was it. That's all it took for Ventura to accept the role that would instantly put him in the bandwagon of male icon, Gabin's straightforward humility was the perfect trigger to Ventura's motivation. He understood that he was dealing with pros and no-nonsense guys, not stars.

Like Gabin, Ventura never faked, he was a natural, and that showed on the screen. The two men were often rival in the movies but good friends in real life, sharing their passion for good restaurants and values such as friendship and family. So before its own making "Touchez pas au Grisbi" was already blessed by the charisma of two actors and the predestination classic. At a time filled with colorful costume dramas and big-budgeted swashbucklers to counter-attack the rise of TV, Becker opted for a minimalist subject but with a great casting. The format of "Grisbi" is linear and simple, the plot is so accessible that it's secondary, the real thrills is to rediscover Gabin inhabiting a new and see him with deal with people who are as smart and professional as he is.

Angelo is actually a perfect foil for Max while the good friend Riton Is so inept Max contemplated the idea of abandoning him. But Gabin could play greedy thugs but not without honor, and no one would have imagined him being something else. Same with Ventura. And "Grisbi" would open the way to noir classics as "Razzia" "Rififi" or Melville's "Bob le Flambeur", featuring stories mostly set at night when honest people are sleeping, movies centering on men with values and guts, and women whose main purpose is to drive the plot and not in the right direction as the catalysts of men's weaknesses. The female ally was often an aging woman herself, but these movies never held youth in high esteem, we didn't see many kids, young criminals were the most gullible and young women not trustworthy.,

These movies reminded me of that Godfather quote "women and children can be careless, but not men" and perhaps in this line lies the big shift between the old school popular cinema of the 50s 60s and the New Wave that featured many movie centering on youth and women: "400 Blows", "Jules and Jim" with Brigitte Bardot as the new sensation. Belmondo and Delon would later co-star with Gabin and Ventura and then portray in solo, cops or gangsters, like the old men, to prove that macho heroes could still surf the New Wave, and over it.

So, behind his minimalist but efficient approach to the crime genre, "Touchez pas au Grisbi" is a triple milestone in French cinema: restoring Jean Gabin's career, starting Lino Ventura's one and bringing a second breath to French noir cinema.
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an interesting time capsule
colcam14 December 2003
Touchez Pas Au Grisbi is a most interesting time capsule, with the slang, feelings, and behaviors of the early to mid fifties France put on the screen in the form of a black and white time capsule. There is a new print, with newly translated subtitles theatrically released in the USA, and it is getting a very heavily Francophile audience, most of whom seem enthralled at the beginning.

By the time the first twenty minutes of it have unspooled they are not quite as enthralled, and seemed (at least at the well attended screening I was present for) to be on their way to irritation. Continuity was more than poor, it was horrible; within a scene clothing sometimes changed at random, Sten guns were unpacked, became MP40 submachine guns, then Thompson SMGs, then something else, back and forth, the pictures on the walls went from straight to crooked to straight for no reason-- by the end of the show there was a large contingent of older viewers who simply could not believe that was the same movie they remembered. The subtitles in small, thin white letters did not always stand out from the background well enough to be read, but the audio track was crisp and clear. For a re release such as this the picture could have been printed in B&W on color stock, with the subtitles in a pastel or neutral color; why they were not baffled the audience, many of which were lost in the fifties idioms of French they flatly did not understand. (This included a French Diplomat who had to ask his wife what something said in French meant-- she knew, but he had never heard the term!)

An interesting movie, with strange touches (white hand grenades so they could be seen in the night shots, pause timing to allow dubbing into other languages) and the ability to open a window to the early French gangster film era. .
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Gabin's role as "honorable gangster" shines in second half after lugubrious exposition
Turfseer2 August 2020
Warning: Spoilers
Jacques Becker's 1954 crime flick Touchez pas au grisbi translates to "Don't Touch the Loot" in English. But it was also known as "Honour Among Thieves" in the UK. The film represented a big comeback for its star, Jean Gabin, who plays Max, a suave gangster, who might have ended up as a principled detective, had he not chosen a life of crime.

Touchez pas au grisbi doesn't really go anywhere in the first half. We're introduced to Triton (René Dary),Max's crime buddy who is having trouble with his girl, Josy (Jeanne Moreau), now taking an interest in Angelo (Lino Ventura), Max's gang leader rival. Much time is wasted on some peripheral action including Max getting a job for his protégé, Marco, as well as two of Angelo's goons following Max in his car (there are no exciting resolutions to both of these scenes).

Then there is the slow scene in Max's spare apartment where Max and Triton have a conversation and eventually go down to the building's car garage where Max shows his pal where the loot (gold bars) from a recent heist, are hidden. It's there that Triton admits that he mentioned the heist to Josy and Max concludes that Josy told Angelo about the stolen loot. The end of all this lugubriousness is when Max brings the gold bars to a fence who informs him that it will take time to melt them down and give Max some cash.

After that things pick up considerably. Triton is kidnapped by Angelo and his gang and Max briefly considers giving up on his old pal-but loyalty prevails. With Marco in tow, Max conscripts tough guy nightclub owner Pierrot (Paul Frankeur) and they end up capturing one of Angelo's men, Fifi, whom they rough up but eventually obtain no information from and let go.

Angelo proposes a swap: Triton for the gold bars. In a classic scene of cinematic history, there is an involved gun battle on a back road where Angelo and his thugs are killed but Triton badly wounded. A further twist occurs when Max and Pierrot cannot extract the gold bars from a burning car after it's blown up by grenades. The coup de grace is when Triton succumbs to his wounds.

The film is well worth waiting for the payoff at the end, an exciting pastiche of choreographed violence. Gabin is completely in command here and plays a likable villain whose loyalty to a friend shows that sometimes there's "honor among thieves."
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