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Classe Tous Risques [Import]

Lino Ventura , Sandra Milo , Claude Sautet    Unrated   DVD

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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars French gangsters minus trench-coats and the famous Code, but with the excellent Lino Ventura Aug. 15 2008
By C. O. DeRiemer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Classe Tous Risques (The Big Risk) is a French gangster movie that doesn't try for style. That's why it has style. Because the movie is so underplayed and so matter-of-fact, it becomes more and more involving. And because Abel Davos is played by Lino Ventura, we wind up emotionally invested in this taciturn, tough killer who loves his wife and kids, has an encounter with customs agents on the shore near Nice at night that neither he nor we expect, and who proves just as willing to shoot a cop or a betrayer with as little emotion as flicking off a bit of lint. We first meet Davos in Italy with his wife and their two small boys, one about 9 and one 4.

"This man was Abel Davos, sentenced to death in absentia," we're told. "On the run for years, he had watched his resources dwindle, even as his anxiety kept him on the move. With the Italian police closing in each day, France was again his best bet. Maybe he'd been forgotten."

Davos was a top gangster in Paris who took care of his friends. That was several years ago. A heist to give him money to return to France goes very wrong. Now he's hiding out with his two kids. He calls his friends in Paris to help him out. He and his kids need to get from Nice to Paris but the police are hunting him and they've set up roadblocks. For Davos' two best friends, time has passed and they've moved on. They don't want to put themselves at risk, and for what? Obligation gives may to caution. So they hire a young thief, Eric Stark (Jean-Paul Belmondo), to pick up Davos and the children in an ambulance, then to drive to Paris with Davos heavily bandaged and the children hidden. We're on a journey where Davos' options are increasingly limited, where he must find ways to have his children cared for, where he realizes there are no more ties of friendship, where betrayal seems likely, and where quite possibly his only friend left is Eric Stark.

This somewhat cynical movie works so well because it does its job without fussing about. There are no trench coats with pulled-up collars, no toying with the melodrama of the gangster code so many French directors have loved. Classe tous Risques gives us Abel Davos, a man who once was somebody, who now is sliding down to be nobody, and who reacts with violence and resignation.

Lino Ventura dominates the movie, yet when he is paired with Jean-Paul Belmondo a curious chemistry happens. Ventura as Davos is grim and worried about caring for his sons. He is humiliated by his situation. He is a tough man who sees killing someone, if needed, as just part of the business he's in. Belmondo as the young thief who initially is sent to be an expendable driver and winds up being a friend to count on, provides the brightness that keeps the movie from being just one more ride down the elevator. Belmondo was 27 and looks younger. His unlikely star power as a lead actor -- broken nose, under-slung jaw -- shines right off the screen. He makes Erik a match for Ventura when they share a scene. And Belmondo's scenes with Liliane (Sandra Milo), the young woman who becomes his girl friend, radiate charm and good-natured sex appeal. The ending is bittersweet fate, and without a stylistic posture in sight. We hear Davos say, "Abel's gone. There's nothing left." It would be well worth watching Classe tous Risques to learn what he means.

There are many fine French gangster films. I'd place this one right there with Touchez Pas au Grisbi - Criterion Collection and Bob le Flambeur - Criterion Collection. To see one of Lino Ventura's finest performances, watch Army of Shadows - Criterion Collection. They are all Criterion releases, as this one is. The DVD transfer is fine and there are several interesting extras.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bad "feature" Jan. 31 2011
By Charles D. Fulton - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
For some inexplicable reason, Amazon has removed the rate movie feature from the main product page. One must now write a review in order to rate a movie and generate recommendations. This is not a review, but merely a means to allow me to rate this movie and improve my recommendations. If you are as annoyed by this new "feature" as I am, please register your protest w/ Amazon help.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Op. 1 of this unforgettable director! March 25 2011
By Hiram Gomez Pardo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Claude Sautet was a promient French director.And as a proof of this fact, this film says it all.

A criminal on the run (Abel Davos) finds going home after a decade is harder than he expects. Davos (Lino Ventura) is wanted for murder in France, and has been living underground in Italy for ten years. Since then, Abel has married Therese (Simone France) and fathered two sons, and once he's decided it's time to come home. Abel has planed a well zealous scheme in which he'll steal a fortune to finance his journey and head home with Therese and the boys, but the fate paves its way and ruins what it was planned, so when he arrives in Paris without his wife and running from the law with two kids in tow. An underworld boss who owes Abel some favors helps him put together a plan to travel across France in an ambulance to avoid suspicion, and recruits a headstrong young gangster, Eric (Jean-Paul Belmondo), to serve as Abel's driver and right-hand-man. En route, Abel tries to settle some old score with criminal associates who betrayed him.

As you may expect, the presence on stage of two remarkable first-rate actors like Lino Ventura and the rising star by then - Jean Paul Belmondo - ignite the screen in this tragic Noir in which nothing is going right and where all the odds are against him. Every step he makes seems to be hovered by a tragic spell and so he decides to take a personal revenge to end with his supposed friends. Stark helps him but it's obvious he feels for Davos a strange fascination and visible admiration by his cold-blooded behavior. Nevertheless the fatal game began and nothing will stop it.

Based on a novel by Jose Giovanni, Classe Tous Risques was the first feature film from Sautet, who previously worked as an assistant director for some of France's most prestigious filmmakers.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loving father, gangster supreme Dec 28 2012
By mookie wilson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
a no-nonsense meditation on living the life while trying to be a father at the same time. a valentine to good-hearted bastards.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Solid Crime Film Sept. 12 2012
By B. Ying - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Claude Sautet is not one of the most prolific French film directors but he stands among the best. This is his debut film but seemed
to be made by a mature hand. A very good and well-mounted black and white crime story with the rock-like Lino Ventura supported by the charming and under-playing Jean-Paul Belmondo about criminals who do not hesitate to pull the triggers yet a human at heart among families and friends. It is about friendship, loyalty, betrayal, tragedy and crime rarely rewards with an abrupt and befitting ending. A fine film still stands solid after over 50 years.

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