Bob le Flambeur (1956)

Bob le Flambeur (1956), directed by Jean-Pierre Melville.

First review

Bob the "Gambler" or "High Roller" is an older ex-con who has settled down to a comfortable life. He dresses well, has a nice apartment and drives a Plymouth convertible. He's well-known and respected in his part of town. He once saved a police detective's life and they are now pals. He tries to keep a young aspiring hood out of trouble and takes in a young woman to keep her off the streets.

He's up every night gambling compulsively, and after a losing streak, is nearly broke. He sees an opportunity for a colossal casino heist and can't resist getting back in the game. The problem: it takes a big crew and not everyone can keep a secret, especially from their women.

Can the plan hold together? Can the detective warn Bob off before it all goes to hell?

The heist itself in not particularly well developed and the final fifteen minutes employ a twist that seems more like a fantasy, a jarring intrusion into the crime formula.

Criterion DVD. Very brief nudity (1956!) Remade as The Good Thief in 2002.

Second review

New thumbnails from the Kino Blu-ray.

The commentary track by Nick Pinkerton says that Melville planned a serious heist film, but after seeing The Asphalt Jungle (1950) he didn't want to compete with it, so he did something more like a comedy of manners.

It seems neither one nor the other to me, falling between two stools.