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Bob Le Flambeur (The Criterion Collection)

Roger Duchesne , Isabelle Corey , Jean-Pierre Melville    PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)   DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
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Product Description


A singular masterpiece that served as a clarion call for the coming French New Wave, this 1955 love letter to the city of Paris and the American urban noir films of the 1930s and 1940s is precisely the sort of cinematic consideration of genre influences that became the soul of early works by Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut, and Claude Chabrol. Directed by Jean-Pierre Melville (a filmmaker so enamored of American culture he adopted the name of Moby Dick's author), Bob le Flambeur (Bob the Gambler) concerns a courtly gangster who plans on robbing a casino. But the film is less about the trappings of a conventional heist tale than about Melville's embrace of the form and his wistful weavings within it. The title character (Roger Duchesne) is almost a knight errant, with a visible gallantry and code of loyalty suggesting Melville's own dreams of film tradition, reinvented into something both faithful and new. A terrific experience and an important sliver of film history. --Tom Keogh

Product Description

Suffused with wry humor, Jean-Pierre Melville's Bob le Flambeur melds the toughness of American gangster films with Gallic sophistication to lay the roadmap for the French New Wave. As the neon is extinguished for another dawn, an aging gambler navigates the treacherous world of pimps, moneymen, and naïve associates while plotting one last score-the heist of the Deauville casino. This underworld comedy of manners possesses all the formal beauty, finesse and treacherous allure of green baize.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Add it to your collection April 10 2004
By A Customer
This, of course, is a great movie and the DVD also has a really interesting interview with Daniel Clauchy, the actor who plays Paulo, talking about the experience of making this film and working with Melville. Also, an interesting interview with Melville excerpted in the DVD booklet. Not to be a brat, but it's worth nothing that, although one of the other reviewers writes the budget for this film was 10X that of other films of the time, it is actually the opposite--Melville shot this for about 18 million (old) francs, about a tenth of what other feature films cost at that time. He used his own script, unknown actors--famously discovering 15 yr old Isabelle Corey walking down the street--and only a small crew, cutting as many costs as possible. The film, however, looks big budget--gorgeous shots of Montmartre, Pigalle, and Parisian nightlife and a beautifully slick, noir style. Isabelle Corey is wonderful, but also see Guy Decomble from 400 Blows as the police inspector.
It's just a great movie: it's meticulously crafted, there's nothing falsely intellectual about it, and it's interesting to see how much influence this has had on all the heist films that have followed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars COMEDY OF MANNERS WITH MENACE July 17 2002
Essentially a comedy of manners with menace, "Bob the Gambler" or "BOB LE FLAMBEUR" is a great caper film that also heralded the coming French New Wave. The electric, slang-filled French dialogue written by Auguste le Briton ("Rififi") has a rhythm and snap that is nicely mirrored in the cool, slick, sometimes sinister unfolding of the story itself. Unfortunately, the dialogue suffers a little in the not quite spot on English subtitles.
Director Jean-Pierre Melville pretty much invented the French crime film. After World War II Melville (real last name Grumbach), made films on a shoestring, on location and without stars. He was alone among all French filmmakers who made pictures entirely on his terms. This 1955 film, with a budget about ten times bigger than a typical French film of its time, is also a loving portrait of Paris and an homage to the noirish American films of the 40s and early 50s. Especially John Huston's "Asphalt Jungle."
Roger Duchesne is Bob, a courtly gangster with a natty style not unlike the late mobster kingpin Gotti, who plans on robbing the Deauville casino. But the film is not so much about the details of Bob's one last heist as it is about playing with the genre itself. Bob is a dark knight with a code of loyalty that conflicts with the amorality of his profession just as the filmmaker Melville toys with the makings of a new film tradition. A terrific film that beats the old and new versions of "Ocean's Eleven."
This new digital transfer, like all Criterion discs, is superb. Extras include an interview with Daniel Cauchy ("Paulo") and a radio interview with director Melville, who was so enamored of American culture that he took the last name of Moby Dick's author.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Old Man's Cool . . . July 11 2002
He's vain and he's broke but he looks out for his friends.
Yep. It's French film noir yet the protagonist is involved rather than existentially detatched. He's (gasp!) likeable.
Which is why the young hood imitates him---they tease him by calling him 'Bob' too---and the cops respect him. Besides he's too busy scraping together gambling money to affect a tough guy persona. He's cool without trying.
This one's a gem of stylized realism. Gritty without being grimy. The denizens of Montmatre that inhabit Melville's film may be sewer rats but they behave with panache. They are losers but never bitter. The most hardened yet romantic bunch of bad guys you're ever likely to encounter.
The one sour note is what time has done to this film. It has copied it endlessly. Do not be surprised if you feel deja vu when watching it for the first time. It's hard to name all the other flicks have ripped off bits and pieces of the plot throughout the years.
What is that saying about the sincerest form of flattery?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars interesting piece of film history July 14 2003
Warning: this is NOT an action movie. You will be disappointed if you're expecting to see a lot of details surrounding the planning and execution of a major heist. Get Rififi if that's what you want.
'Bob' is stylish, leisurely paced, and NOT a caper flick (or barely qualifies as one). The film is not about a heist, it is about Mr. Bob and his all-consuming passion for gambling. Gambling is his sustenance, his downfall, and his savior. Women only seem to bring trouble (except for Yvonne, the cafe owner). How he acts and thinks, his values and judgments, are part of the old world of gangster-gentlemen which doesn't exist any more. It is, like many French films, a study in character, and what an interesting character it is!
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Essence of Cool Gangster April 15 2002
In P.T. Anderson's commentary for HARD EIGHT, he talks about how this film was a big influence and that he probably owes Melville some money. I'd have to agree. Regardless, this film(and Melville's other films) are just so damn cool I can't blame P.T. This is a very interesting take on a gangster film. Apparently, Melville changed it from more of a heist-focused movie once he saw ASPHLT JUNGLE(Melville had been working on it when John Huston's film came out). Bob is a great character and this is a great dvd! Thanks Criterion(now bring out LE DOULOS andI'll be really happy!)!
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