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Bob Le Flambeur
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Length:1h 42mins
Cast:Jean-Pierre Melville, Roger Duchesne, Isabelle Corey, Daniel Cauchy

With exquisite style and attitude, genre auteur Jean-Pierre Melville prefigures the French New Wave movement with 1955's Bob le Flambeur. After losing the chance to film pulp novelist Auguste Le Breton's Rififi (that pleasure went to Jules Dassin), Melville collaborated with the author on what would be both his first original screenplay and his first gangster film. Roger Duchesne stars as Bob Montagné, a high-rolling former hoodlum who used to own the Montmartre night. Unfortunately, these days his wealth lies mostly in style; poor Bob is near broke. While helping a tenderfoot crook, Paolo (Daniel Cauchy), cut his teeth on crime, Bob sees a shot at redemption in a casino heist in Deauville. But, this being the genre it is, nothing really works out right. Displaying an amount of cool not yet associated with French cinema in the '50s, Duchesne owns this film from start to finish. Supporting-cast highlights include Isabelle Corey as an appealing and seemingly innocent social climber and Guy Decomble as the police inspector on Bob's back. Melville's approach to this noir is downbeat and beat-down -- black and white never seemed so dark and so light -- but, with liveliness to spare, the director also sets the stage for the rough-and-tumble Paris of the French New Wave, particularly Jean-Luc Godard's landmark Breathless. As payback for so deftly contributing to a revolution, Melville gets a deferential cameo in Godard's film. Tony Nigro

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