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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.

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4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
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 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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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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5.0 out of 5 stars Whose Bob is it anyway? Sept. 26 2011
By David M. Goldberg TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I purchased this movie from Amazon.ca. The information indicated that it was a Maple Studio product with French subtitles. No subtitles were available on the disc sent, and after a mild complaint my money was returned. With it, I purchased the Criterion edition from Amazon.com, but before it even arrived, I was asked by Amazon.ca to submit a review of the copy I had returned. Despite the fact that there are several very good reviews already on the Amazon.ca site, I decided to comply for a number of reasons. My critique is of the Criterion edition.

Firstly, I want to protest for the umpteenth time the pernicious, misleading, and -------- yes, I have to say it ------ dishonest practice of both wings of this otherwise admirable company in lumping together reviews of widely disparate versions of the same film so that you have no idea which of the several available products any particular review is describing. This makes utter nonsense of the scoring system which ought to be a better guide than it usually is.

Secondly, I want to express my astonishment at the 4-star ratings of many who gave rave notices in their text. I am left wondering what flaws that they did not report justified withholding the final star.

Thirdly, I resent the remarks of those who have judged this film, for good or for bad, by that silly and meaningless term: film noir. Although it is a film about crime and those who commit and prevent it, it is above all an Art film in which gangsters and police happen to be the major protagonists. Unlike RIFFIFI, compared with which some reviewers offered an unfavourable evaluation, no attempt whatever is made to create suspense.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic French Masterpiece.
Jean Pierre Melville deserves to be included with the ranks of Kubrick or Hitchcock. If you're even bothering to read this, just buy the movie already.
Published on Oct. 7 2009 by Joel Macdonald
5.0 out of 5 stars See This!
Most people reading the reviews I assume already know of the movie and are thinking about buying it because they can't find it or because they've seen it and like it. Read more
Published on March 10 2004
3.0 out of 5 stars Not so good
Wonderful to look at with nice shots of Montmatre at night and a good opening during a Paris dawn. Also, the "bad" girl Anne is worth looking at twice. Read more
Published on Jan. 13 2003 by henry clark
5.0 out of 5 stars A great discovery!
I first saw this movie at a local film festival a year ago and fell in love with it. The characters are fascinating, ones you want to revisit again and again. Read more
Published on Oct. 11 2002 by Wally Conger
4.0 out of 5 stars The Old Man's Cool . . .
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! Read more
Published on July 11 2002 by the wizard of uz
5.0 out of 5 stars The Essence of Cool Gangster
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. Read more
Published on April 15 2002 by "skipmccoy"
5.0 out of 5 stars Did you used to love movies?
Stay cool is still the main rule.
Bob is cool like Serge Gainsbourg is cool.
Like Mitchum.
Like Bogart. Read more
Published on April 12 2002 by brad chisholm
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