Saturday, August 27, 2011

BOB LE FLAMBEUR (French) (1955)

“Before the New Wave, before Godard, Truffaut and Chabrol, before Belmondo flicked the cigarette into his mouth in one smooth motion and walked the streets of Paris like a Hollywood gangster, there was Bob.” –Roger Ebert
There’s no exaggeration when the same Ebert said in his ‘Great Movies’, “Modern heist movie was invented in Paris in 1955 by Jules Dassin with ‘Rififi’ and Jean Pierre Melville with ‘Bob Le Flambeur’. Melville pioneered the French noir cinema with this film and continued making some of the matchless noirs throughout his career. Melville brought moody, stylistically elegant touch to gangster genre. He carved a niche in matter of style and impression and made the gangsters and criminals meticulous and distinctively stoic but professional masters. They know their tasks and at the same time oozing magnetic charm on screen. Bob played by the silver hair Rogen Duchesne is a kind of gambler anybody love to dream! Though carried away often by his gambling stints and luck playing he kept visiting card tables, racing, night clubs playing waltz until the ultimate bait of casino safe heist worth millions. The meticulous planning and rehearsal of the heist followed with quite improbable but surprise twist in the climax.

What’s Greg Tolland to Orson Welles, Henri Decae is to Melville. His brilliant B&W camerawork and shot selections are undoubtedly things to witness here. The real location shots prominent in the opening and the first half surely impressed even Master like Godard. Decae was the man of indelible impressive frames of French New Wave cinematography with films like ‘The 400 Blows’ and ‘Le Samourai’. The waltz, piano and vibraphone background score runs throughout the film which is quite strange to witness in Melville films as generally in his color films the use of music remained so minimalist.


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