Bob Le Flambeur Movie Review

"Born with an ace on his palm," Bob is a career gambler living in Paris's Montmartre district, living only at night and only in the local casinos. But poor Bob (Roger Duchesne) has hit an unlucky streak, and now he's down to his last 800 francs. A smart bet at the racetrack puts him back up, but an ill-advised trip to the local craps house wipes him clean.

With his young protege Paolo (Daniel Cauchy), Bob le Flambeur (Bob the High Roller) decides to rob the nearby Deauville casino on Grand Prix night, a huge safecracking job requiring lots of knowhow, inside knowledge, and plenty of guns. But as with any heist, loose lips and second thoughts get in the way... as does Bob's legacy as a gambler. And of course, the various dames in their lives only make matters worse.

The godfather of Big Score films, Bob le Flambeur is one of the first of its genre and a forerunner to the French New Wave. It's filled with moody set design and lighting, quietly smoldering looks, a jazzy score, and an astounding performance from Duchesne (modern viewers will be reminded of Seymour Cassel). Directed by Jean-Pierre Melville and co-written by Auguste Le Breton (who would heist again with Rififi), it's textbook noir and an excellently spun look into the mind of the desperate gambler who can stay overwhelmingly cool on the outside.

The film takes too long in the beginning to establish Bob's lifestyle, but once the heist planning gets started, the movie really takes off. Bob's final baccarat binge in the Deauville Casino, just minutes before the robbery is supposed to get underway, are fascinating and perfectly choreographed. The ending is somewhat expected, but we never quite know how we're going to get there.

Now reissued as a Criterion DVD, Bob looks and sounds great. A few extras (old interviews, mostly) round out the disc, but as a piece of history, Bob truly stands on its own.

Cast & Crew

Starring : , , , , André Garet, Gérard Buhr, , , René Havard,

Comments

Bob Le Flambeur Rating

" Excellent "

Rating: PG, 1955

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