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on April 10, 2004
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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on 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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on 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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on 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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on September 26, 2011
I purchased this movie from 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, but before it even arrived, I was asked by to submit a review of the copy I had returned. Despite the fact that there are several very good reviews already on the 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. In that context, it has nothing to do with Hitchcock or any other American director of gangster movies, despite the inflated notions of their influence upon Melville that persist on this side of the Atlantic. Its combination of adventure, romance and comedy is infused with an atmospheric elegance that is the hallmark of French cinema at its very best. The characters whose fates and fortunes are intertwined in the narrative are, for the most part, much more delicately shaded than the black and white heroes and villains of the American underworld. Some learned their killing trade in the Resistance, others in the French Gestapo, as Melville himself explains in the rather dull and incoherent interview that he gives in English as one of the extras (the other being a riveting analysis of Melville's obsession with cinema as an art form and how this shaped his movies, eloquently narrated by Daniel Cauchy who plays Paolo, Bob's protege and ultimate nemesis, in the movie).In each, with only the occasional exception, Good and Evil struggle to prevail, but most of the time manage to co-exist in a fragile equilibrium.

The ending is poignantly sly, with an embarrassing explanation for Bob's success in flipping coins, and a back-of-car-seat discussion on the merits of different classes of defence lawyers, as blood and spent cartridges litter the pristine pavement of the Deauville Casino. Esthetically and emotionally,we are about as far away as we can get on this planet from New York and Chicago, despite the superficial physical similarities.
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on 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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on March 10, 2004
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. For those who haven't seen
It's said filmmaker Melville is sort of a grandfather of the French New Wave. But BOB LE FLAMBEUR is more entertaining today than anything Godard or Truffaut ever made. This flick isn't just an exercise in style; sure, it has plenty of that, but it also has a great cast of characters, a good plot, and is just plain fun. In other words, this film isn't a mood movie. It's the real deal.
Have fun dropping the title into conversation. Do it slyly and, when someone says they've never seen it or heard of it, act offended. And make sure you say the title with a thick French accent. It's fun! I'm kidding, of course (or am I?). But this is a really good movie!
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on April 12, 2002
Stay cool is still the main rule.
Bob is cool like Serge Gainsbourg is cool.
Like Mitchum.
Like Bogart.
In fact it's a tragedy that Melville never got to make a picture with Mitchum.
Bob is who Johnny Depp might get to be when he grows up.
Jean-Pierre Melville is the director that the video store clerk aka Q Tarantino has ripped off more times than you have fingers and toes. Camus and Chandler with a camera.
Beautifully shot by Henri Decae (not sure on the spelling)whom Wenders hunted down to shoot Wings of Desire.
Melville will make you forget everytime Hollywood has broken your movie-loving heart(and taken your...bucks).
What could be better than that?
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on October 11, 2002
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. And what a terrific caper! Isabelle Corey, one of the great but unrecognized beauties of the '50s, is marvelous.
It's great to now own this film on DVD. Lots of good extra features, including an audio interview with the director (from 1960) and a brand new filmed interview with one of the stars.
If you enjoy film noir and "gangster" films, this French classic is a must.
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on January 13, 2003
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.
But the story is full of holes and bad editing especially in the last 15 minutes. And this is to the detriment of the film in such a way as to render the film no more than a stylish exercise as opposed to a true heist film or noir classic.
If your intent is to look at pioneering film of the French New Wave or to see how the French appreciate Hollywood film noir, then by all means RENT it.
But if you want to see a wonderfully realized French heist movie of the same period with a true understanding of noir, then find yourself a copy of Jules Dassin's RIFIFI, which is a far superior movie.
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