"This displaced American film noir movie was made by French auteur Jean-Pierre Melville. It has a white-haired leading man (Roger Duchesne) who, Bogart-like, wears a wide-brim hat and a trenchcoat. He's a gambler with ethics (such as his hatred of pimps). But, when things get desperate for him, he falls back on his failed career of 20 years before - robbery - this time of a casino.
Usually I find the heist in Melville films the most interesting part, but this time I preferred the early, mood-setting scenes of this movie in which the gambler strolls thru Montmarte streets between the backroom gambling dens and his home and haunts. And I liked his efforts to aid a wayward young woman -- primarily because that woman was played by Isabel Corey. The detailed heist was interesting, and there's a cool and cruel twist at the end.
As usual, Melville's direction is top notch. The pacing, as usual, is very deliberate. Financial desperation on Melville's part forced him to cast minor actors, so the faces were unknown to me - but I wish Isabel Corey's wasn't. Forget Bardot or Loren. Corey put most European sex kittens of the time in the shade (altho, it seems she could barely act).
The Criterion DVD has a couple extras. The best is a recent interview with aging Daniel Cauchy who played the young man in this film. He has a lot of interesting information (such as how this film qualifies as his third and seventh film). Also available is a radio interview with Melville but the American host formulated obtuse questions that would challenge an American much less Frenchman Melville. I gave up on that one part way in.
I've since learned that Roger Duchesne ("Bob") had been accused of working with the Gestapo during the war. That may explain why this and his only other post-war film were made some 10 years later. How ironic that he's the star of one of the most admired and influential movies to come out of France."
Stylish French Gangster Film Noir
R. Swanson | New Mexico | 09/14/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I saw Le Samourai recently and liked it a lot. I read up on Jean Pierre Melville and learned that Bob Le Flambeur was considered by many cineastes to be one of his masterpieces. So perhaps I expected too much...and was a little disappointed. Le Samourai had Alain Delon who was a much more watchable actor than Roger DuChesne. Apparently Melville had very little money at the time he made this film and couldn't afford high priced actors.
It is certainly stylish and fun to watch for its '50's Montmartre underworld atmosphere. The scenes at the casino at Deauville were great, too, especially the final one where Bob wins big. The faces of the other players are terrific!
The interview with Daniel Couchy, who plays Paulo is interesting. He states that he really doesn't see why so many people love this film. I have to agree with him. It's obviously historically important for the innovations made in technique--the hand-held camera, etc. Lovers of film will find much to like here. For me, it was not as enjoyable as Le Samouri."
Cool and elegant blend of American gangster film and French
Galina | Virginia, USA | 06/19/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
Jean-Pierre Melville's "Bob le Flambeur" (1955) has been often called the first film of the French New Wave. First or not, French New Wave or not, "Bob le Flambeur" is one of the coolest and memorable films I've seen. The most fascinating element of this exquisite crime/dram/noir film is its title character, Bob Montagne- Bob the Gambler (Roger Duchesne). All women wanted to be with him and all young men wanted to be him. He was the man well respected and liked by the cops, the criminals, and the gamblers alike - the king of cool, the elegant loser with his own respectable code of honor. He drove an American car and wore an American hat but he belonged to the streets of Montmartre, Paris, where he was born just as the film itself that could've been only made by a French director who admired American films and had created a perfect blend of American gangster film and French sophisticated comedy of manners. Made back in 1955, the movie is fresh, crisp, sensual, modern and simply delightful. Having watched already all "Ocean's" movies, including Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack's classic, I see where the inspiration for them came from. "Bob Le Falmbeur" was released in the USA in 1982, nine years after Melville's death and became an instant cult hit. Often, cult movies are not the best made but it is not true in the case of "Bob le Flambeur". Its direction is perfect: seemingly simple and truly elegant, its cinematography is beautiful, its music score is amazing and its characters are not the caricatures - they are the real human beings of flesh and blood and they have something (or a lot) to lose. Acting is great by everyone with Roger Duchesne unforgettable and Isabelle Corey as a young streetwalker Anne whom Bob took under his wing, absolutely marvelous in her first role - child-like innocent yet already perfectly aware of her powers over the men, by the words of Bob's friend, "she will go far -she knows what she wants but does not show it"."
Slow but stylish crime drama
One-Line Film Reviews | Easton, MD | 09/16/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The Bottom Line:
Melville made his living crafting films like this but Bob le Flambeur can't hold a candle to other offerings like the masterful Army of Shadows: it shows a good deal of creativity in setting up the central heist (I particularly enjoyed the scene in which the men plan out the bank on a soccer field, using lime to sketch out teller's desks and so on) but never really develops enough urgency to make it a compelling or fast-moving film.
Ah, Monsieur Bob...
Liza B. Stough | ellicott city, md United States | 12/31/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Just saw this movie again after probably two decades, and it's still one of the more gripping - and probably the pleasantest - of the great heist/noir movies I've ever seen. Reminded me that I once had a trilogy in my head of aging-courtly-criminals-we-root-for: Roger Duchesne's Bob Le Flambeur, Burt Lancaster's Lou Pasco in "Atlantic City", and Richard Farnsworth's Bill Miner is "The Grey Fox." Might be time to review and update the list, but these three gentleman stay."