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Classe Tous Risques - Criterion Collection
Classe Tous Risques - Criterion Collection
Actors: Lino Ventura, Sandra Milo, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Michel Ardan, Marcel Dalio
Director: Claude Sautet
Genres: Indie & Art House, Classics, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
UR     2008     1hr 43min

Though sentenced to death in France, in absentia, former gangland chief Abel Davos (Lino Ventura) sneaks back to Paris with his children after hiding out in Milan for nearly a decade. Accompanied by appointed guardian Eric...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Lino Ventura, Sandra Milo, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Michel Ardan, Marcel Dalio
Director: Claude Sautet
Genres: Indie & Art House, Classics, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Classics, Love & Romance, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Criterion
Format: DVD - Black and White - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 06/17/2008
Original Release Date: 01/01/1960
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1960
Release Year: 2008
Run Time: 1hr 43min
Screens: Black and White
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 15
Edition: Criterion Collection
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: French
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

A French Gangster Film Upstaged in 1960 by Godard's Breathl
G. Merritt | Boulder, CO | 05/10/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Perhaps best known for his superb 1991 film, Un Coeur en Hiver (A Heart in Winter), Claude Sautet's earlier, crisp black-and-white, 60s gangster film, Classe tous risques (Consider All Risks), stars Lino Ventura and Jean-Paul Belmondo (two icons of French cinema), and Sandra Milo. Banned from 1961 to 1968, and based on a novel by José Giovanni, the film has a Jean-Pierre Melville-Bob le Flambeur influence. After pulling off a daring payroll heist on the streets of Milan (where he has been hiding for roughly a decade), French fugitive gang boss Abel Davos (Ventura) returns to Paris, despite a French death sentence. Before completing this one last job of his career, Davos puts his Italian wife Therese (Simone France) and two sons on a train to France. Then his own Milan getaway goes awry, and Abel and his partner in crime, Raymond (Stan Krol), wind up on a boat to Nice. Hunted by the police, Davos' former friends send a seemingly inexperienced kid in a loud, tweed jacket named Eric Stark (Jean-Paul Belmondo of Godard's Breathless) to accompany him back to Paris. Initially insulted by what he perceives to be an act of dishonor, Abel soon warms up to the kid, who has a certain savoir fair with the French girls (Milo). Although Belmondo received all the attention for his performance in Breathless, which was released in 1960--the same year as Sautet's film, Classe tous risques remains an undiscovered French gem of ganster film that will appeal to anyone who likes French cinema in the tradition of Bob le Flambeur, Le Samourai, Rififi, or Le Cercle Rouge.

The Criterion edition of this film features a newly restored transfer; excerpts from Claude Sautet ou la magie invisible, a 2003 documentary on the director by writers N. T. Binh and Dominique Rabourdin; an interview with Classe tous risques novelist and screenwriter José Giovanni; interview footage featuring actor Lino Ventura discussing his career; the original French and U.S. trailers; and new essays by director Bertrand Tavernier and Binh, a reprinted interview with Sautet, and a 1962 tribute by Jean-Pierre Melville.

G. Merritt
French gangsters minus trench-coats and the famous Code, but
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 08/15/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Classe Tous Risques (The Big Risk) is a French gangster movie that doesn't try for style. That's why it has style. Because the movie is so underplayed and so matter-of-fact, it becomes more and more involving. And because Abel Davos is played by Lino Ventura, we wind up emotionally invested in this taciturn, tough killer who loves his wife and kids, has an encounter with customs agents on the shore near Nice at night that neither he nor we expect, and who proves just as willing to shoot a cop or a betrayer with as little emotion as flicking off a bit of lint. We first meet Davos in Italy with his wife and their two small boys, one about 9 and one 4.

"This man was Abel Davos, sentenced to death in absentia," we're told. "On the run for years, he had watched his resources dwindle, even as his anxiety kept him on the move. With the Italian police closing in each day, France was again his best bet. Maybe he'd been forgotten."

Davos was a top gangster in Paris who took care of his friends. That was several years ago. A heist to give him money to return to France goes very wrong. Now he's hiding out with his two kids. He calls his friends in Paris to help him out. He and his kids need to get from Nice to Paris but the police are hunting him and they've set up roadblocks. For Davos' two best friends, time has passed and they've moved on. They don't want to put themselves at risk, and for what? Obligation gives may to caution. So they hire a young thief, Eric Stark (Jean-Paul Belmondo), to pick up Davos and the children in an ambulance, then to drive to Paris with Davos heavily bandaged and the children hidden. We're on a journey where Davos' options are increasingly limited, where he must find ways to have his children cared for, where he realizes there are no more ties of friendship, where betrayal seems likely, and where quite possibly his only friend left is Eric Stark.

This somewhat cynical movie works so well because it does its job without fussing about. There are no trench coats with pulled-up collars, no toying with the melodrama of the gangster code so many French directors have loved. Classe tous Risques gives us Abel Davos, a man who once was somebody, who now is sliding down to be nobody, and who reacts with violence and resignation.

Lino Ventura dominates the movie, yet when he is paired with Jean-Paul Belmondo a curious chemistry happens. Ventura as Davos is grim and worried about caring for his sons. He is humiliated by his situation. He is a tough man who sees killing someone, if needed, as just part of the business he's in. Belmondo as the young thief who initially is sent to be an expendable driver and winds up being a friend to count on, provides the brightness that keeps the movie from being just one more ride down the elevator. Belmondo was 27 and looks younger. His unlikely star power as a lead actor -- broken nose, under-slung jaw -- shines right off the screen. He makes Erik a match for Ventura when they share a scene. And Belmondo's scenes with Liliane (Sandra Milo), the young woman who becomes his girl friend, radiate charm and good-natured sex appeal. The ending is bittersweet fate, and without a stylistic posture in sight. We hear Davos say, "Abel's gone. There's nothing left." It would be well worth watching Classe tous Risques to learn what he means.

There are many fine French gangster films. I'd place this one right there with Touchez Pas au Grisbi - Criterion Collection and Bob le Flambeur - Criterion Collection. To see one of Lino Ventura's finest performances, watch Army of Shadows - Criterion Collection. They are all Criterion releases, as this one is. The DVD transfer is fine and there are several interesting extras."