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Casque d'Or - Criterion Collection
Casque d'Or - Criterion Collection
Actors: Simone Signoret, Serge Reggiani, Claude Dauphin, Raymond Bussières, Odette Barencey
Director: Jacques Becker
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
2005     1hr 34min

Jacques Becker lovingly evokes the Belle Èpoque Parisian demimonde in this classic tale of doomed romance. When gangster's moll Marie (Simone Signoret) falls for reformed criminal Manda (Serge Reggiani) their passion incit...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Simone Signoret, Serge Reggiani, Claude Dauphin, Raymond Bussières, Odette Barencey
Director: Jacques Becker
Creators: Robert Lefebvre, Jacques Becker, Marguerite Renoir, Raymond Hakim, Robert Hakim, Annette Wademant, Jacques Companéez
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Love & Romance, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: DisCina International
Format: DVD - Black and White,Full Screen - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 01/18/2005
Original Release Date: 08/18/1952
Theatrical Release Date: 08/18/1952
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 1hr 34min
Screens: Black and White,Full Screen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 22
Edition: Special Edition,Criterion Collection
Languages: French
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

Becker's Brilliant Depiction of Agonizing Passion...
Kim Anehall | Chicago, IL USA | 02/03/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Eyes are the source of visual perception though which most people conceive the world and all of its wonders. A moment where two pair of eyes catch one another and there is a spark of mutual interest could lead to further emotional investment. This mutual interest is most frequently triggered through the visual experience, which catches something that fascinates the individual. The fascination rapidly releases a rush of hormones as the visual contact continues and intensifies the emotional sensation through out the whole body. Occasionally, there are physical manifestations revealed through butterflies in the stomach and uneasy feelings that could cause sweatiness and involuntary stuttering. This is a common phenomenon, which most people undergo at least once in a lifetime, known as falling in love.

The moment of falling in love can be overwhelmingly passionate, as the affected could drift into oblivion with muffled thought and reasoning. This kind of love could be damaging to the person, even painful to those near and dear. Casque d'Or opens with such a spellbinding moment where the two main characters, Marie and Manda, gaze at one another unaware of their future predicaments. The title, Casque d'Or, refers to Marie (Simone Signoret) golden hair, which serves a symbolic meaning through the hypnotic effects it appears to have on men. Manda (Serge Reggiani) seems to be under its spell, as he passionately stares at Marie.

The carpenter Georges Manda's luck, or maybe more rightfully misfortune, began when he accidentally bumped into his old jail friend, Raymond. Through Raymond's acquaintances and criminal friends he meets Marie (Simone Signoret) who currently is together with Roland (William Sabatier). Bad omens surround the initial meeting between Marie and Manda, as Marie's jealous boyfriend is ready to turn to violence in order to end to Marie's infatuation.

Roland's boss, Felix Leca (Claude Dauphin), shows his interest in the love quarrel, as he openly expresses his concern for Roland, but internally has an alternative motive to why he wants to help Roland. Felix displays his own interest to Marie and requests that she respond to him later that evening after having thought about it. In the evening Manda appears to express his love for Marie while Roland's jealousy flares out as he suggests that they should go outside to solve their mutual problem. Felix lurks in the social shadow as the two men go out in the backyard to fight for Marie, and he appears the instant before the fight in order to put his dubious plans into action.

In the 1950's most films coming out of Hollywood were heavily influenced by guidelines of what was morally acceptable to depict. This is much due to the harm that the Catholic Legion of Decency accomplished in the 1930s, as the religious organization began to influence the creative process of filmmaking through their moral stipulations. Casque d'Or does not show these stipulations as the story dwells on the nitty-gritty of a love affair amidst criminal elements in Paris. Jacques Becker's story does not glorify or bottle up the darkness in human nature. He simply illustrates the actions of a group of characters in a specific social environment during the turn of the century. It does not turn into a period film, which he also tried to avoid. Instead Becker depicts a doomed couple hoping for a better time and place, as they are aware of their difficult situation.

In a historical perspective Casque d'Or is a masterpiece. François Truffaut and other directors thought it had a tremendous effect on the French New Wave some years later. This is amusing to ponder, as the film was at first received with very little praise in France while the Brits thought it was one of the best films of the year. Today an audience can still rejoice in the triumph that the film offers to its viewers from the beginning to the end, as the end offers something much darker than expected."
Not just a pretty picture
Trevor Willsmer | London, England | 12/16/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Casque D'Or may take a little while to get into, with the first half hour being largely milieu and set-up, but once the plot kicks in it's compelling. Seen today it seems certain to have been one of Scorsese's influences in Gangs of New York, not least because Jacques Becker takes the standard period costume drama setting and then plays a down-and-dirty movie that pays no attention to the niceties you're expecting: these characters really are low lives. The knife-fight is tough stuff, and its aftermath beautifully staged, and the finale has real emotional power - not least the shots of Serge Reggiani's almost-dead waltz with Smone Signoret that in a more 'modern' (1940-50s) setting would have pegged out his fate from the moment he met her. Having only seen Signoret in her later haggard roles, it was also a surprise to see just how luminous she was in her youth. Impressive stuff."
Golden Signoret
Randy Buck | Brooklyn, NY USA | 09/11/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Jacques Becker's classic romance, cleaned up by Criterion in this splendid new transfer, is essential viewing for anyone interested in French cinema. Signoret, never seen to better advantage than here, and Serge Reggiani are unforgettable as the film's doomed lovers. Co-star Claude Dauphin, as the treacherous gang head, is also masterful, as indeed is the entire cast. In doing a costume film, Becker was concerned that the actors inhabit the clothes and period settings, not vice-versa, and CASQUE D'OR certainly achieves that; eschewing either sentimentality or melodrama, at times the action seems almost documentary in feel. Despite the censorship limitations of the period, there's a marvelous sensuality to the romance on display here -- the morning-after scene between the lovers glows with passion. Somewhat ignored in France upon its initial release, this movie's reputation has grown through the years. This fine DVD release will win for it a new generation of fans."
Signoret is fierce, tender, innocent and not, in this sad lo
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 01/15/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is Belle Époque Paris, which can be a dangerous world where there are few second chances, and none for lovers. Innocence seems to have been long ago wrung out of Marie (Simone Signoret). She's a prostitute and the bought woman of Roland, a handsome, arrogant member of Felix Leca's gang, a group of bullyboy thieves, pimps and murderers. Leca (Claude Dauphin) combines slyness, danger and oiliness in equal measure. Leca wants Marie, and on his terms. She's beautiful in a coarse and knowing way, with a swagger and a hand on her hip, a gangster's girl who takes being slapped as part of the life. When Marie meets Georges Manda, "Jo" (Serge Reggiani), a man who had been part of the life, had served time and now is a carpenter, everything changes. In the dance at the start of the movie, with the gangsters in their tight suits, their women in flouncy gowns and ribbons, cheap waltzes playing, beer and wine on the tables, Marie sees Jo, likes him and flirts. For Jo, he can't take his eyes off her. The music plays on, they dance. The next day Marie sets out to see Jo at his carpenter's shop. Her feelings deepen in some inexplicable way. Marie regains a measure of innocence with Jo and we watch this happen. Jo will do anything to protect her. Marie will do anything to protect Jo. Leca, always there, is determined to have his way.

What first appears to be a turn-of-the-century tale about gangsters and their women turns seamlessly and with foreboding into a hopeless and emotional love story. When we last see Marie I started to choke up. Does Casque d'Or, the story of Marie and Jo, reach the level of tragedy? Probably not, but it will do.

The Criterion DVD of Casque d'Or looks just fine. Among the extras is a commentary track that I didn't listen to and two interesting, short filmed interviews, the first with Signoret recorded in 1963 and the second with Reggiani recorded in 1995.

Jacques Becker, the director, didn't make many movies. He was 54 when he died. Criterion has released two. Both are excellent. Le Trou - Criterion Collection is a tough, nerve-wracking and ironic tale of several prisoners who attempt to dig their way to freedom. Touchez Pas au Grisbi - Criterion Collection is a gangster film, but even more a view of what middle age will do to us, even gangsters. You won't know whether to smile or just shake your head when Jean Gabin has to reach for his glasses to read a phone number.

It also is somehow pleasantly satisfying to recall Signoret and Reggiani four years earlier in the opening and closing sequences of La Ronde, she the prostitute who loses her heart and he the soldier who quickly forgets her."