Louis Bertain is the owner of a Paris garage which is the front for a robbery gang. He and his accomplices are careful to keep up a civic veneer by day, indulging in criminal activities ...
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Louis Bertain is the owner of a Paris garage which is the front for a robbery gang. He and his accomplices are careful to keep up a civic veneer by day, indulging in criminal activities only when "the red light is on" at night. This status quo is upset when one of the gang members becomes convinced that Louis' younger brother is a police informer.
The life of novelist Auguste le Breton would make a fascinating film in itself especially his involvement with the French Resistance. His early life however spent in the underworld of Montmartre has given his crime novels an accuracy and authenticity that is only matched by those of Jose Giovanni. The characters that both these authors have portrayed with their particular 'argot' and ambiguous code of honour are a source of endless fascination to film-makers and film goers.
Jean Gabin and Lino Venura had filmed 'Touchez-pas au Grisbi' three years earlier for Jacques Becker. Here they are again in the fourth of twelve films that Gabin made with director Gilles Grangier over a fifteen year period. Gabin's character here is a variation of Max in Becker's film in so far as he is a gentleman crook who gets involved in one heist too many whilst Ventura again plays a trigger-happy thug. Annie Girardot's special talent enables her to rise above a rather thankless role as the girlfriend of Marcel Boffuzzi whose iconic role was in 'The French Connection'. There are indeed a few 'connections' here worth noting. Ventura reached the summit of gangsterism in Giovanni's 'The Second Breath' for Jean-Pierre Melville whilst both he and Gabin came full-circle in le Breton's 'Sicilan Clan' for Henri Verneuil.
Gilles Grangier is certainly no match for either of those directors but the pacing here is good and the performers hold our interest. Louis Page, who worked many times with the great Gabin, contributes his customary razor-sharp cinematography. The last half-hour is gripping and the final scene terrific.
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