Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Touchez Pas au Grisbi - Criterion Collection|
Actors: Jean Gabin, René Dary, Dora Doll, Vittorio Sanipoli, Marilyn Buferd
Director: Jacques Becker
Genres: Action & Adventure, Westerns, Art House & International, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Jean Gabin is at his most wearily romantic as aging gangster Max le Menteur in the Jacques Becker gem Touchez pas au grisbi (Hands Off the Loot!). Having pulled off the heist of a lifetime, Max looks forward to spending hi... more »
The gangster film as ghost story of middle-age and loss.
darragh o'donoghue | 12/14/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If there is one scene that explains the enduring appeal of 'Touchez Pas Au Grisbi' (basically 'don't touch the loot'), it is this: Max (Jean Gabin at his most Mitchum-esque), an aging hood who has pulled off a massive airport robbery and plans to retire quietly to the country, sits in his apartment one night with his old friend, the somewhat lunk-headed Riton (Rene Dary). Riton's girlfriend (Jeanne Moreau) has left him for a young gangster, Angelo (Lino Ventura in a sensational debut), whom she has informed of the job, and who is trying every means possible to snatch the gold. So this scene is of crucial generic urgency, with rippling consequences for the development of the plot. What Becker films is entirely without urgency or consequence. In complete silence, he follows the middle-aged men as they enter the apartment, sit down, prepare a light supper, eat and talk; Max then gets up, takes out mattresses and pillows for his friend's bed like a good chambermaid, undresses in the bathroom, brushes his teeth, Riton likewise; then they both go to bed. This beautifully understated, intimate and domestic scene does not replace the crime genre, but co-exists in paralell with it, showing what is at stake. This split defines the movie, from the conflict between older and younger characters (and men and women); between Max's affable respectability and his latent sadism; between bright interiors of oppressive theatrical artifice and dark outdoor locations; between static scenes where nothing much happens and jolting bursts of brutal violence and action. You even find it in the brilliant closing car chase, as thrilling location work intercuts with Hitchcock-style back projection. This disparity between the real and ideal gives the film its melancholic, philosophical heart, and gives the climax an over-powering force, set in the quiet countryside to which Max wished to retire, and which can only offer backdrop to a bloodbath.Critics have found in 'Grisbi', a gangster film about loyalty, treachery, collaboration, surveillance, torture, clandestine activities, secret hideouts, rural slaughter and military hardware, some kind of allegory for the Nazi Occupation of France a decade previously. This explanation is attractive because the period had been tacitly removed from the public sphere. But there is nothing so portentously grand in Becker's characteristically light handling. Max and the gangsters may well have been in the Resistance - Melville has said that underworld methods and contacts were vital to both Resistance and Gestapo - as their knowledge of torture techniques and gun-smuggling suggests. But the Resistance were absolutely crucial to their time and place, whereas Max and his friends are resolutely out of time, relics from the past who can only play at assimilation - the recurring motif of Max's harmonica theme suggests a man literally stuck in a groove. Max himself exists in a paralell world to the realities of a 1950s France nowhere to be seen on screen, a revenant infernally condemned to repeat mistakes and watch old friends die."
"The Celler Is Better - No One Will Hear Him Scream."
bdlion | Charter Oak, Covina, CA | 01/24/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Like a fine wine, TOUCHEZ PAS AU GRISBI has aged wonderfully. Under the expert and loving hands of the folks at Criterion, we have an absolutely pristine print of this understated and refined French gangster movie. Watching the Criterion DVD is to fall completely into the film, as the restored black and white images are simply glorious.
This movie is not like today's heavy-handed violent gangster movies, but a more elegant and sophisticated presentation that focuses on character development and its themes of loyalty, betrayal, and an adherence to a moral code. Jean Gabin, who plays the urbane and respected criminal Max, is the soul of this movie, presenting Max as charming, stoic, and ruthless. Great detail is given to ordinary tasks, like the serving of a meal, brushing of one's teeth, etc., but the effect, instead of arty, goes to the development of the characters and the portrayal of them as regular folks.
Lest you believe this is a slow talky picture, there are moments of explosive violence that will send a chill through you. Suspense is created through the most effective of methods: by what you don't see and what is filled in by one's own imagination. As the tension mounts in the movie, you will be glued to the screen gripping the arms of your chair with withering anticipation. They don't make 'em like this anymore, neither here nor in Europe. This movie is a fine example of both French cinema before the New Wave, and of the gangster genre.
In any language, TOUCHEZ PAS AU GRISBI means film excellence, especially after the careful, painstaking restoration by Criterion Studios."
Stunning Gangster Tale with Class...
Kim Anehall | Chicago, IL USA | 02/17/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Class is often confused with style and fashion in the regards to how one dresses. In our contemporary society this confusion is frequently expressed through flamboyance, which is usually the result of how money talks. However, this vain perception of class has nothing to do with one's self conduct. Refinement, sophistication, and class are qualities that should be attached with characteristics such as trust, confidence, and mutual respect. These qualities are what define a gentleman. When people see a true gentleman they only see the exterior, and it is this exterior that money buys.
The days of gentlemen criminals are long gone. Films such as Scarface (1983), New Jack City (1991), or any of Takashi Miike's violent gangster illustrations depict the new style of gangsters that contemporary society is facing where disloyal and ill-mannered thugs roll in the direction of dough. These films visualize the frightening power money has on people. This could be seen up close in a grotesque manner in the brilliant Maria Full of Grace (2004) where humans are being regarded as pack mules. Touchez Pas Au Grisbi, which was shot over a half century ago, depicts the coming of this new criminal element.
Nostalgia swallows Jacques Becker's crime story about the aging criminal and gentleman Max (Jean Gabin). The story takes place in Paris where Max lives life with a women half his age while spending untold numbers of nights desiring the same meaningless affection from the women seeking their way into men's wallets. The many visits to the night clubs have led Max to discover that he has grown old, and many of the people around him are older. The life he once desired is no longer as appealing, as he decides that he wants to return home early. Max even discloses this to his friend Riton (René Dary) while having found out that Riton's young girlfriend has found a younger lover, as she has previously given Riton empty promises of love.
The professional life, which Max has chosen for himself is also undergoing a transformation. Younger generations are cutting into the growing drug business without the consideration of others, and these young newcomers show little class while they trample on everyone in their sight. Recently Max carried out a job that brought him and his partner Riton 50 million worth in Orly gold bars. This was to be Max's final job before retirement, however, the newcomers in the criminal underworld seem to want change his destiny.
Touchez Pas Au Grisbi is a stunning gangster tale where the old ways are to face off with the new. This is depicted through Max who is undergoing a personal life changing experience, as he is confronted by events around him that make him question what he is doing. The character that Jean Gabin delivers to the screen is marvelously multifaceted, as he portrays the gentleman thief by being a tender lover, clever diplomat, friendly patron, and firm interrogator. The cast around Gabin also displays nice work as they all accentuate Max's uniqueness by being fairly simple characters. Much is due to Becker's marvelous directing, which comes together through all the aspects of filmmaking. This eventually leaves the audience in a haze of bewilderment, as Touchez Pas Au Grisbi offers a complex and enriching cinematic experience."
Fascinating Movie With A Great Jean Gabin Performance
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 05/24/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a film I like a lot. I like the way it spends the first half of the movie setting up the situation, getting us into the milieu and letting us know the characters. Everyone seems to be tough but you don't know just how tough until the second half of the movie starts rolling. And if I could transform myself into the style of one actor, it would be Jean Gabin. He dominates the movie effortlessly, in every way from how he moves, gives a shrug and a half smile, pulls a chair for his mistress and then places his hands momentarily on her shoulders, stares at a punk who is being deliberately hurt to make him talk. Gabin was 50 when he made this movie and looks it. He could have passed for 60. He's getting a little thick in the middle, his eyes have bags and his neckline sags. He has no vanity. His character points this all out to his friend Riton when he tries to talk a little sense to his friend. And as fascinating a character as Max is, it doesn't take long before you realize that, if he were really upset with you, he could kill you with barely a second thought.
Part of the pleasure of the movie also is the other characters. With a number of them I was kept a little off balance. Angelo at first comes off as a tough gangster. But then you realize that he's not only tough, but he's smart. Pierrot also kept me guessing. What role was he playing? I kept assuming he was just probably a slimy nightclub owner ready to betray anyone. Then it turns out he's ready to back up Max even when it gets dangerous.
And of course some of the pleasure of the movie is that it isn't just a first rate film of gangsters and criminal style. It's even more about friendship and about the years catching up with us all. Max's interior monologue about his friend Riton is not only touching, it went a long way to explaining who Max himself was. The end, when Max has to put on a pair of glasses to check a phone number, is a satisfying way to conclude Max's story.
The Criterion DVD picture is great and the interviews are interesting. I especially enjoyed the one with Lino Ventura, who played Angelo."