Bob le flambeur Screen 9 articles

Bob le flambeur


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  • What the film lacks in human spark, it makes up for in visual and aural appeal. Melville favors the op-art checkerboard in his locations, creating geometric configurations that trap his characters even further. . . . The electronic, almost subterranean sounds of safecracker Roger (André Garet) practicing with a type of sonar combination detector on a model of the Deauville safe heighten the mechanized feel of this film.

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    My Journey Through French Cinema: Bertrand Tavernier
    May 16, 2016 |

    The film made a big impression on me. The voiceover narration by Melville had me hooked from the start. . . . With time, I came to think Bob le flameur was overrated. A few unusual scenes, like the casing of the Deauville casino, filmed in real time without back projection, the casual feeling created by the offhand tone of the narration, made up for Auguste Le Breton's mediocre dialogue, and a rather conventional screenplay.

  • With its quirky, rhythmic action, highly stylized treatment of plot and character, and fluid, semidocumentary shooting techniques, Bob le Flambeur is in every way at odds with today's "cinema of quality." The flat, literal, keep-the-plot movie approach of a Shoot the Moon, Diner, or An Officer and a Gentleman is the polar opposite of what Melville creates in Bob-an openness and mobility coupled with a deep awareness of each shot's potential for conveying more than one meaning.

  • An ideal film (both chronologically and aesthetically) with which to begin one's appreciation of Melville as an erratic giant of the policier genre. The story . . . is essentially the same downbeat type of caper plot as John Huston's The Asphalt Jungle, which the director was known to admire, but the treatment is more romantic, and where the quirks of character function as traps in Huston's movie, Melville's quirks become transcendent figures of style.

  • Through incongruous soundtrack and odd angle camerawork, Melville redefines conventional cinema and ushers the nouvelle vague movement. . . . Melville's use of minimal, directed, high contrast lighting serves as a cinematic bridge between American film noir and traditional French cinema. The result is an engrossing film on fraternity, human nature, chance, and inescapable destiny - as original and incomparable as the charismatic gambler himself.

  • The emotional tone is far from the heart-pounding suspense of ''The Asphalt Jungle.'' Instead, the film seems remarkably light and free as it drifts from one topic to another -- here offering a disquisition on male friendship, there a quick study in betrayal, now a touch of gambler's metaphysics. For all of the documentary realism of the film's location photography, Melville is able to cast a spell of fairy-tale unreality around his characters -- and around Bob in particular.

  • Something like the cinematic Birth of the Cool, Melville’s drollest, most likable gangster movie is set in the ’50s, but it deliberately evokes Paris’s pre-World War II underworld. . . . It takes itself seriously, but as attitude thrillers go, it’s exceedingly light on its feet. The movie is a superb riff with a boffo finale, a terrific, cynical punch line, and a crazy closing image of Bob’s Plymouth on an empty beach.

  • Jean-Pierre Melville’s sly and svelte human comedy strikes an articulate cinephiliac give-and-take, with Pépé le Moko, Casablanca and The Asphalt Jungle behind it and Bay of Angels, California Split and Hard Eight ahead. . . . For all the comely blabbermouths and shrewish wives, the great duplicitous bitch is Lady Luck, who mesmerizes the seasoned gangster at the roulette.

  • Shot in crisp, gritty black and white by Henri Decaë, Bob le flambeur fuses the carefully perfect compositions of William Wyler with the rough immediacy of the New Wave. The result is an austerely honest artifice reminiscent of Melville’s hero, John Huston. The camera never calls attention to itself, but hand-held shots and natural lighting lend the image a fluidity and hard truth impossible to achieve in the studio.

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