Category Archives: French Films

Day for Night (1973)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 7 out of 10

4-Word Review: Movie within a movie.

Director Ferrand (Francois Truffaut) is trying desperately to complete his latest film project, but faces many challenges in the process. His young star (Jean-Pierre Leaud) is threatening to drop-out due to his recent break-up with his girlfriend, so his co-star Julie (Jacqueline Bisset) decides to sleep with him out of pity and in an effort to get the film completed, but in the process gets in trouble with her husband. Ferrand also faces issues with his other leading lady Severine (Valentina Cortese) who is an alcoholic  and with the sudden death of his male lead Alexander (Jean-Pierre Aumont).

What was once an innovative idea now seems rather antiquated. No where is this more apparent then in the scene where Severine constantly forgets her lines and opens up the wrong door during each take. At one point this might’ve seemed funny as behind-the-scenes bloopers really didn’t come into vogue until Hal Needham started showing them during the mid-70’s in the closing credits of his films. However, actor screw-ups are now no longer fresh and instead seem almost sad and pathetic especially here where you begin to wonder if the woman is suffering from severe psychological disorder. I was also surprised that the rest of the crew and director put up with it as most Hollywood productions would have the actress quickly fired and replaced.

Truffaut may be a great director, but his onscreen presence isn’t much and he hardly ever seems to be directing anything anyways, but more overwhelmed by the people and problems that surround him almost like he really isn’t in control. Perhaps this was the point, but a stronger actor with a more definitive personality would’ve hit the idea home better. I was also confused why he constantly wore an earplug that seemed to be connected to what looked like a transistor radio in his shirt pocket. Initially I thought it was to help relay messages/signals to his co-director/cinematographer or vice-versa, but then he is shown wearing it even when he was not on the set making it seem like it might be a hearing aid, but in either case it never gets properly explained, but should’ve.

Bisst is beautiful and I’ll give Truffaut credit as he certainly knows how to capture her exquisite blue eyes better than any other director.   Hearing her speak fluid French is at first surreal, but then kind of fun and watching her climb a tall ladder without hesitation in order to get onto a elevated set was impressive too as I’m not sure I would’ve been quite so brave.

The behind-the-scene romantic/sexual scenarios that occur between the cast members are quite funny, but I wished they had jumped into them sooner as I found them to be more interesting than the filmmaking stuff, which to me didn’t come off as all that revealing or insightful. I also felt the antics got resolved too quickly and easily. Again I presume this was the humorous intent by showing how no matter what the problem or issue somehow, someway they find a way to get the film completed, but the story would’ve been more captivating had these side-dramas been more played-out. It’s still an entertaining watch, but a reboot with the setting in a Hollywood production should be in order as I suspect some of the on-set politics there would be handled much differently.

My Rating: 7 out of 10

Released: May 24, 1973

Runtime: 1 Hour 55 Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Francois Truffaut

Studio: Warner Brothers

Available: DVD, Blu-ray

Jeanne Dielman, 23 Commerce Quay, 1080 Brussels (1975)

 

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 5 out of 10

4-Word Review: She performs daily chores.

This is a highly unusual film which analyzes in minute detail the monotonous tasks that a single mother performs throughout her day and was apparently inspired by writer/director Chantal Ackerman growing up with a mother who suffered from obsessive/compulsive disorder. The story centers on Jeanne (Delphine Seyrig) a woman raising a teenage son while living in a tiny one-bedroom apartment in Belgium. During the day she entertains various men with sexual services and uses the money that she receives for this to help maintain things for both herself and her teenage son Sylvain (Jan Decorte). When she is not working as a prostitute she is busily cooking and cleaning, but as each day passes her routine becomes sloppier, which is a subconscious signal that something is bothering her and only at the very end does the viewer find out what it is.

Some have hailed this as a masterpiece including being listed among the ‘1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die’ by Steven Schneider. Normally I enjoy films that buck the conventional narrative and trying to learn about a character through the way she performs her daily routine as opposed to doing it the standard way through dialogue and action is commendable, but the cinematic flair is missing making this seem more like ‘monotonous task porn’ than a movie.

For instance when we watch Jeanne wash her dishes the camera does it in a very static way from behind her instead of doing something flashy like a close-up of the water glistening of the dish, or from some other provocative angle. Akerman has stated that she took this approach in order to show respect to her character’s ‘personal space’, but this only ends up giving it a closed-circuit TV feel.

Nonetheless I still remained strangely intrigued, but I’m not sure if this was because of some reviews I read beforehand where I was told that about the ‘surprise/shocking ending’ that would somehow make what I was watching all seem worth it, or because of what I was actually going on. I’ll agree that seeing the way she prepares and cooks her various meals is fascinating, but it’s for all the wrong reasons as you become more caught up in the task itself than the character and to say that one’s mind doesn’t eventually begin to wander after 3 hours and 20 minutes of this would be an understatement.

The 3-day arch that she goes through from where she performs her tasks proficiently on the first day only to screw them up more and more by the third one needed to be much more apparent as her ‘screw-ups’, like dropping a newly washed spoon on the floor, are too subtle and not enough of a payoff. Cinema is still a visual and dramatic art form and yet this film runs away from that at every conceivable turn making it seem more like an assault on one’s stamina instead.

Spoiler Alert!

The only true cinematic moment comes at the very end when Jeanne kills one of her male clients, but there’s no reason given for why she does this or what the aftermath will be. To have to sit through all that comes before it just to walk away with unanswered questions is frustrating and almost like being told a joke where the punchline is not an equal payoff to the long, tangent-filled set-up that it took to get there. I like the concept, which is intriguing, but it could’ve been accomplished in half the runtime making this an interesting experiment that can be appreciated as an oddity, but nothing more than that.

My Rating: 5 out of 10

Released: May 14, 1975

Runtime: 3Hours 21Minutes

Not Rated

Director: Chantal Ackerman

Studio: Olympic Films

Available: DVD, Blu-ray (Criterion Collection), Amazon Video

Jonah Who Will be 25 in the Year 2000 (1976)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: Their lives lack purpose.

Eight individuals (Rufus, Miou-Miou, Dominic Labourier, Roger Jendly, Jacuqes Dendry, Myriam Boyer, Jean-Luc Bideau, Myriam Mezieres) who were a part of the French protests in May, 1968 now live on a communal farm where they find that their lives lack meaning due to being forced into jobs that do not inspire or interest them. Jonah is the baby of the one of the members who they hope will grow up into a better, more open world.

I usually prefer European films due to their leisurely pace that emphasizes nuance and doesn’t feel the need, like in most Hollywood flicks, to hit-you- over-the-head with a broad generalized message and yet this one took me quite a while to get into. The major hurdle is that it rotates between too many different characters making it hard to follow any of them as there are long gaps between when we see one individual until we see them again. I was also frustrated that we didn’t get to see what these characters were like back in 1968 as this period only gets briefly alluded to even though seeing firsthand how much they had changed would’ve been interesting.

Although billed as a comedy it is much more a dramedy with only fleeting moments that are funny. The best bits are done in black-and-white when the characters imagine themselves in some other situation outside of their dreary existence. My favorite of these are when the adults watch eight children playing on top of a muddy hill only to then have the adults imagining that they are the kids wallowing around in the mud themselves.

The characters do eventually grow on you once you get to know them making the ending far more impactful than the beginning. Miou-Miou, who just a year earlier played a prostitute with no discernable personality in the dark comedy Going Places is the life of the movie here as a supermarket cashier who doesn’t charge certain customers the full price of their groceries in her attempt to ‘rebel’ against what she feels is an unfair system and her visits with an elderly shut-in (Raymond Bussieres) inside his apartment are both amusing and touching.

The film’s message and its searing attacks on capitalism are something you’d never see any American movie, but thought provoking nonetheless placing this almost on the same level as O Lucky Man!. I also liked that you feel the pain and anguish of these characters without having it explained to you through dialogue, which is a sign of masterful filmmaking that I wish was more prevalent in movies that are done here.

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Release: December 1, 1976

Runtime: 1Hour 55Minutes

Not Rated

Director: Alain Tanner

Studio: Action Films

Available: DVD (Import all regions)

The Story of Adele H. (1975)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 7 out of 10

4-Word Review: She obsesses over soldier.

Based on actual events the story centers around Adele Hugo (Isabelle Adjani), the second daughter of famous French writer Victor Hugo, who in 1863 travels across the Atlantic to Halifax, Nova Scotia where she tries to rekindle her relations with Albert Pinson (Bruce Robinson). Pinson is now an officer in the British army and no longer has any interest in Adele. Adele though refuses to accept his rejection and makes numerous attempts to get him to marry her. The more indifferent he becomes the harder she tries, which eventually drives her into a complete madness.

Director Francois Truffaut took the accounts from Adele’s actual handwritten diary to help recreate the story. Unlike most films nothing was altered from the documented facts and although the stalker /jilted lover theme may seem like an overused storyline by today’s standards it was still a fresh topic back in the ‘70s and one of the first documented cases in human history of what has now become known as erotomania where a person becomes convinced that the object of their desires is in love with them even when they really aren’t.

What helps this film to stand out is that the audience isn’t made to fear the woman and her actions are not portrayed as being menacing. Instead the viewer feels genuinely sorry for her as we witness firsthand how debilitating mental illness can truly be as it destroys this otherwise beautiful woman’s personality and leaves her only a shell of a person in the process.

Adjani is excellent and although the film remains compelling it still comes off as feeling incomplete. Part of the problem is that we only see the character at one stage of her life. Reportedly in real-life Adele only started to show signs of mental illness when she reached her mid-20’s, so it would’ve been interesting to have seen scenes from when she was younger and behaving more normally. Flashbacks of when Adele first met Pinson, who was initially interested in Adele and even proposed marriage to her, would’ve been intriguing to see as well.

We’re never shown Adele’s relationship to her father either, which could’ve been quite revealing. We hear voice-overs from when he sends her letters, but seeing the two interrelate in-person was needed. This may have been the result of Truffaut given the rights to film the story by Jean Hugo, but only if Victor Hugo did not appear onscreen, but in either event the film is lacking in budget and scope where a wider biopic of the woman’s life would’ve been more satisfying including showing her later years while inside a mental institution, which gets only glossed over here.

As in most cases what occurred behind-the-scenes while the film was being made is sometimes more interesting that what happened in front of the camera and this production proved to be no exception as the cast and crew went through many of the same scenarios as the characters. Truffaut tried to start up a relationship with Adjani, but was rebuffed and then she turned around and had an affair with the actor who plays the character that rebuffs her character in the movie. This caused Truffaut great jealousy as he was forced to deal with the two’s affair from afar much like Adele had to do in the story when Pinson eventually marries someone else. Truffaut later described making this movie and dealing with his unrequited love for Adjani as a ‘daily suffering’.

My Rating: 7 out of 10

Released: October 8, 1975

Runtime: 1 Hour 50 Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Francois Truffaut

Studio: United Artists

Available: DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Video

The Tall Blonde Man with One Black Shoe (1972)

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By Richard Winters

My Rating: 7 out of 10

4-Word Review: Following the wrong man.

Bernard Milan (Bernard Blier) and Louise Toulouse (Jean Rochefort) are two rivals within the French Intelligence agency with each looking to unseat the other from their position of power. To counterattack his rival’s ambitions Louise decides to trick the other side into wasting their time by getting them to believe that a man chosen at random is a spy and having them follow him around even though in reality he has no connections to the spy game at all. Violinist Francois (Pierre Richard) gets chosen when he is spotted at the airport wearing only one black shoe. Bernard and his men fall for the bait and follow around Francois wherever he goes and eavesdrop on his conversations like there is some hidden meaning in whatever he says and does, which leads to many amusing results.

The film’s main charm is its satirical jab at governmental bureaucracy and the way they spend so much time and money on wasteful elements that lead nowhere while blithely ignoring the bigger problems. It also playfully taps into the foibles of human nature and how people, once they are convinced of something, will continue to believe it to the point of willfully rejecting or rationalizing evidence that may point elsewhere.

The best bit comes with the overly serious facial expressions that Blier and his subordinates show as they intently listen into Francois’ lovemaking with a woman (Colette Castel).  The slapstick during one of Francois concerts and the side-story dealing with Francois’ friend Maurice (Jean Carmet) who thinks he may be going nuts as he spots the spies at various times when no else does are equally side-splitting.

Pierre Richard, who was not the original choice for the part, is perfect in the lead with his flaming, curly, disheveled hair the perfect look for a man that’s just a bit out-of-touch with world around him. The fact that he continues about his daily life while oblivious to all the spying going on around him makes it even funnier and I liked that despite the character being on the goofy side he still ends up coming off like a real person albeit on the eccentric end.

The script by Francis Veber manages to sustain its comical edge throughout, but like with many of his other plots it borders on stretching its one-joke too thin and seeming more like a collection of gags than an actual plot. The humor is funny enough that it works, but the story still lacks a second or third act and could’ve ended sooner than it does. The film also fails to show the most crucial moment of the story, which is why Francois was wearing one black shoe to begin with. It gets briefly explained later, but this is a scene that should’ve been shown right up front before any of the rest of it got played-out.

In 1985 20th Century Fox did an American remake of this film that starred Tom Hanks and was called The Man with One Red Shoe, which will be reviewed tomorrow.

My Rating: 7 out of 10

Released: December 6, 1972

Runtime: 1Hour 30Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Yves Robert

Studio: Gaumont

Available: DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Video, YouTube

A Pain in the A__ (1973)

pain-in-the-ass-1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: Loser irritates hit man.

Ralf (Lino Ventura) works as a hit man and is hired to assassinate Louis Randoni (Xavier Depraz) who plans to testify against the mob. Ralf checks into a hotel room and plans to shoot Louis as he tries to enter the courthouse from his hotel window, which sits across the street from the court building. As he prepares for the hit he becomes distracted by Francois (Jacques Brel) in the neighboring room who attempts to kill himself after his wife leaves him. Ralf is concerned that Francois’s actions will elicit unwanted attention, so in an attempt to quiet him he ‘befriends’ him, which leads to many ironic scenarios.

The film was written by the prolific Francis Veber and based on his play. Ultimately it’s just a one-joke premise, but what makes it work are the two characters particularly the hit man who is portrayed in a serious way and never once betrays the essence of who he truly is, which is that of a cold blooded killer intent on doing his job and then moving on to his next. The comedy comes from his perturbed reactions at having to deal with a loser that despite his best intentions he can’t seem to ever get rid of.

Famous singer Brel does quite well as the clingy pest who is so wrapped up in his own personal quandaries that he fails to notice that his new ‘friend’ really isn’t his friend at all. Brel’s boyish looks plays well off of Ventura’s constantly stern expression and the plot becomes almost a constant play on errors as each one misreads the other.

The overall set design though is boring and the majority of action takes place solely inside the two hotel rooms, which eventually makes the proceedings quite static. It would’ve been nice to have had more of a conversation between the two as Brel does almost all of the talking while Ventura simply remains quiet while looking bored and angered, which is fun for a while, but more of a character arc could’ve been implemented.

The ending is a cop-out and not satisfying at all. I also felt Ventura was a bit too old and the character would’ve been more intimidating had it played by someone younger and more rugged although for the record Ventura plays the role perfectly especially when he gets injected with a drug that makes him tired and reluctantly  dependent on Brel’s guidance.

In 2008 Veber directed a remake of this film, which met with some success. Also in 1981 director Billy Wilder did an American version of this with Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau playing the two leads. That film ended up adding a few changes and will be reviewed tomorrow.

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My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: September 20, 1973

Runtime: 1Hour 31Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Edouard Molinaro

Studio: Mondex Films

Available: VHS

Life Size (1974)

life size 1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 5 out of 10

4-Word Review: A sex doll obsession.

Michel (Michel Piccoli) runs a successful dental practice, but finds that his life is empty and his marriage to his wife Isabelle (Rada Rassimov) is no longer working. He has cheated on her before, but those affairs left him with the same empty feeling, so this time he decides to take a different route by purchasing a life size sex doll that looks so real that she almost seems human. He takes her everywhere and even brings her along to a visit with his mother (Valentine Tessier) so she can meet his new ‘girlfriend’.  The doll becomes the centerpiece of his very existence and he spends every waking moment he can with her until he sees footage, from a closed circuit camera that he has set-up in his house, of one of friends having sex with her while he was away. He becomes outraged at her ‘betrayal’ and decides that her punishment will be ‘death’.

The film, which can best be described as an early, distant cousin to Lars and the Real Girl, definitely has its share of unique and memorable moments. Writer/director Luis Garcia Berlanga does an admirable job of analyzing just what might happen if sexual fantasy gets taken to its most extreme level. The scenes showing Michel taking the doll to a clothing store in order to be measured and fitted with the latest fashions and marrying the doll in a makeshift wedding are by far the film’s two best segments.

However, it’s Michel’s scenes with his wife that I found to be the most unsettling. The scene where he fondles his wife’s naked breasts late at night as she sleeps while looking at a picture of the doll is quirky enough, but then later on, in the film’s most disturbing moment, she tries immersing completely into his sexual fantasy by pretending to be a sex doll herself in a desperate attempt to win him back.

What is initially considered the sexual substitute to the real thing soon becomes the preferable choice here and it reminded me of an article I read in a science journal a few years back about young men in their 20’s forced to be prescribed Viagra because they were no longer able to achieve erections with their wives/girlfriends because the proliferation of porn on the internet had somehow dulled their senses to real sex to the point that they found it to be a ‘turn-off’. Now, if you are a fan of porn then that’s great and I don’t mean to be appear like I’m trying to knock it, but I did find it fascinating that elements of that article correlated to what this film was showing and how successful this movie was at foreshadowing the phenomenon’s that we are now seeing in our modern day culture.

Although the film is adequately directed and more of a psychological study than a perverse sleaze feast it’s still not an overall success. The main issue is that the main character acts overtly freaky about the doll from the very beginning without enough backstory to tell us why and simply saying it’s due to a unhappy marriage is not enough. A far more compelling concept would’ve been to portray the main character as being more ‘normal’ by having him feel awkward about the doll and even a bit embarrassed only to grow increasingly more obsessed as the film progresses until his ultimate infatuation with it shocks even him.

Alternate Titles: Grandeur Nature, Love Doll, Tamano Natural

My Rating: 5 out of 10

Released: August 21, 1974

Runtime: 1Hour 41Minutes

Rated X

Director: Luis Garcia Berlanga

Studio: Cinema International Corporation

Available: None at this time.

The Tenant (1976)

tenant 1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 10 out of 10

4-Word Review: He loses his identity.

This intriguingly odd horror film may well be Roman Polanski’s best work and even better than Rosemary’s Baby as it manages to be scary in a unique way while also bringing to light many of the subtle ugliness of everyday life. Here Polanski plays a tenant who moves into an apartment were all the residents, and even the landlord (Melvyn Douglas), act slightly peculiar. The woman who lived in the apartment before him killed herself by jumping out the window and as he continues to live there he starts to feel a connection towards her while also getting the idea that somehow the other residents are in a conspiracy against him.

The film’s brilliance comes from the fact that the horror and tension is not based on any of the usual devices.  No ghosts, monsters, or psychos here. Instead the viewer gets sucked into the harsh realities of the modern urban world. The feelings of isolation, people who are cold and impersonal and apartments that are bleak and small as well as showing how these urban jungles swallow up our identities until we’re just another face-in-the- crowd.

This amazingly deep and penetrating study gets astutely underplayed with no action and little or any true scares. The tension comes through its psychological implications and the paranoia that only the Polanski character feels. Are these people really out to get him, or is it all just in his head? There are no definite answers, but theme and ideas are quite real. It’s a sort of twisted version of Rear Window and extension of Repulsion that may require a second viewing in order to completely appreciate.

Polanski scores on all levels as his performance is interesting and his ability as a director to make you feel the smallness and bleakness of the character’s apartment is also amazing. You are given a very real sense of the room’s dimensions without any inclination that it was done on a stage, or with the presence of a film crew. The eerie segments are subtle but successful with imagery that is both strange and lasting.

My Rating: 10 out of 10

Released: May 26, 1976

Runtime: 2Hours 5Minutes

Rated R

Director: Roman Polanski

Studio: Paramount

Available: DVD, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube

Coup de tete (1979)

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By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: Soccer player gets revenge.

Francois (Patrick Dewaere) plays soccer (football) for the local amateur team in the French town where he lives. One day, while the rich owner of the team (Jean Bouise) watches, Francois has a physical altercation with the team’s star player Berthier (Patrick Floersheim), which immediately gets the owner and the rest of his teammates to turn on him. Not only does Francois get kicked off the squad, but he loses his factory job too. Francois then gets accused of rape in a crime that was actually committed by Berthier, but the police manipulate the evidence so Francois goes to jail instead. It’s only later when the team bus gets into an accident that Francois is released from prison so he can help them win, which he does, but he also has a very creative plan that he enacts on those who wronged him.

After directing the highly successful Black and White in Color, which won the Academy Award for best foreign film for 1976, director Jean-Jacques Annaud decided to take another stab at social satire. For the most part the film works well and is filled with a lot of intriguing elements. The best part is the way it pokes fun at the fans, who are just regular people that become so obsessed with their team winning that they lose sight of everything else that is important while clinging to the misguided notion that if their team achieves victory then that will somehow make up for all of life’s other transgressions.

Dewaere excels in his usual outsider role and watching him climb up some precarious apartment building walls and at one point even pull his way up a scaffold in his effort to visit his lady friends is entertaining in itself. Dorothee Jemma is attractive as the woman who initially accuses him of rape then retracts it and the side-story dealing with the quirky romance that ensues between them is enjoyable and better than the main one.

However, like with Annaud’s first film, I didn’t find this to be quite as entertaining as all the other critics seemed to. There are certainly some amusing moments and the script by Francis Veber is highly unpredictable, but in the end it doesn’t pack the intended punch. I think the main reason for this is the fact that the townspeople who screw Francois over are just too one-dimensional. They behave like unbridled jerks without ever realizing how hypocritical they really are, which makes their ultimate comeuppance not as satisfying because I could never believe that they were real people and instead just poorly crafted caricatures.

Alternate Title: Hothead (American reissue)

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: February 14, 1979

Runtime: 1Hour 29Minutes

Not Rated

Director: Jean-Jacques Annaud

Studio: Gaumont International

Available: VHS (Dubbed), DVD (Region 2), Blu-ray (Multi-region) (Subtitled)

The Burglars (1971)

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By Richard Winters

My Rating: 5 out of 10

4-Word Review: Corrupt cop hounds thief.

Azad (Jean-Paul Belmondo) and his cohorts pull off a daring heist by robbing a gem collector of his emeralds in his home by using a state-of-the-art machine that is able to create a key to the safe on the spot by simply entering in the safe’s serial number. However, things go awry when Abel (Omar Sharif), a corrupt police captain, becomes suspicious of their activity after seeing the gang’s car parked on the road. Initially he lets them off, but only so he can follow them later and then blackmail them for the jewels, or threaten them with prison otherwise.

The film, which is based on the novel by David Goodis and made 14 years earlier as The Burglar, which starred Jayne Mansfield, has all the trappings for being a classic heist film. I enjoyed watching the intricate way they are finally able to crack open the safe, which takes up much of the first half-hour. I also liked the creative action, stunt work, story twists, luscious Greek scenery and musical score by the legendary Ennio Morricone. Unfortunately none of this is able to overcome a rather plodding pace and a lingering feeling that you’ve seen it all before.

The film’s biggest claim-to-fame is its two chase sequences. The first is similar to the one done in The Italian Job as two small compact cars drive all over Athens, including on sidewalks, stairwells, and through crowds of people, which is exciting to watch. However, the fact that no one gets injured and no other automobiles are damaged even as the cars drive straight into on-coming traffic is hard to imagine. The camera also cuts to a close-up shot of the lead car driving on its rim, but somehow the vehicle is still able to continue to go several more miles on rough surfaces and high speeds, but why have a shot like that inserted if it ultimately doesn’t mean anything?

The second chase works better, which involves Belmondo hanging onto the side of a bus as it travels speedily down a crowded city street while he tries to kick shut the door of a police car that is following, which is quite realistic looking especially since it appears to be Belmondo himself and not a stunt double doing it. This one culminates with Belmondo being tossed from a dump truck and down a steep hill while other large rocks roll with him, which again is impressive, but the fact that he doesn’t even receive a scratch from it is hard to believe.

Sharif is outstanding in a rare turn as a bad guy. He commands every scene that he is in and in the process makes co-star Belmondo seem forgettable and unable to equal the same strong presence. Dyan Cannon, who is the only American in the cast, gets a pointless part as a pin-up magazine model that catches Belmondo’s eye. Her character doesn’t appear until an hour in and is not all that integral to the plot. Her voice is also clearly dubbed in the French version, which makes her acting here limited and probably not worth signing up for to begin with.

The climactic finish that entails a man being drowned inside a grain elevator is novel as is the final moment inside a giant, mobile chicken coop with thousands of loud, clucking chickens, but overall the film fails to illicit much tension and would’ve been better had the runtime been trimmed and the scenes shortened.

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Alternate Title: Le Casse

My Rating: 5 out of 10

Released: October 24, 1971

Runtime: 1Hour 57Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Henri Verneuil

Studio: Columbia Pictures

Available: DVD-R