Friday, June 08, 2012

Jacques Becker

Leave it to the French to make a heist movie and leave out the heist. Turns out, it's an interesting choice, after some initial slow-footed mood/character setting. For this movie is all about Damage Control long after the big job has been pulled.

The title translates to "Hands Off The Loot." The loot in question are eight gold bricks hidden away in a trunk. The thief is a world-weary, highly cautious Jean Gabin. He's seen enough thuggery for a lifetime. Enough chorus girls, too. He just wants to live long enough to cash in his eight bricks, retire with one of his ten ladies. Problem is, Lino Ventura (of the Melville school) wants to get his hands on all of the above. The way he goes about it is curiously indirect. By that, I mean it is elegant, interesting. The ending's a downer but in a good way. Not as much of a gut-punch as Kubrick's The Killing two years later, but close.

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