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Frank's Movie Log

My life at the movies.

A still from Bob le Flambeur (1956)

Bob le Flambeur

1956 | France | 98 min
  • Fever Heat
  • Bob le flambeur
  • Watched on Wed Sep 22, 2021 via Criterion Channel
    B-: 4 stars (out of 5)

    Bob is an aging hood turned compulsive gambler. He drives a nice car, wears nice clothes and always has money in his pocket. He keeps a foot in the underworld but maintains a friendship with the local police chief. But Bob’s luck is running out. Facing bankruptcy, he hatches a desperate plan to rob a coastal casino.

    Director Jean-Pierre Melville transplants a 1940s Hollywood noir style to contemporary Paris but struggles to reconcile the stylistic artifice with a grittier realism. While Roger Duchesne acquits himself well as Bob, I couldn’t buy him as a tough guy. Ditto the rest of his crew. I kept contrasting his performance with Philip Baker Hall’s in Hard Eight. And while I loved the exterior shots of Paris at night, the interior sets felt artificial and cheap.

    I love gambling movies and I love heist movies, so I can’t say I disliked this one, but I wanted to love it. I appreciate Melville’s vision, but his pioneering effort pales next to the later noirs it inspired.

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