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Bob le Flambeur (The Criterion Collection)

4 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews

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(Apr 16, 2002)
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Criterion Collection
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(Jan 01, 2009)
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Editorial Reviews

Suffused with wry humor, Jean-Pierre Melville's Bob le Flambeur melds the toughness of American gangster films with Gallic sophistication to lay the roadmap for the French New Wave. As the neon is extinguished for another dawn, an aging gambler navigates the treacherous world of pimps, moneymen, and naïve associates while plotting one last score-the heist of the Deauville casino. This underworld comedy of manners possesses all the formal beauty, finesse and treacherous allure of green baize.

Special Features

  • New Transfer With Restored Picture & Sound
  • Video Interview With Daniel Cauchy ("Paulo")
  • Radio Interview With Jean-Pierre Melville
  • New & Improved Subtitle Translation

Product Details

  • Actors: Gerard Buhr, Daniel Cauchy, Claude Cerval, Isabelle Corey, Guy Decomble
  • Directors: Jean-Pierre Melville
  • Format: Black & White, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: April 16, 2002
  • Run Time: 98 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000633SC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #143,863 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Bob le Flambeur (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Essentially a comedy of manners with menace, "Bob the Gambler" or "BOB LE FLAMBEUR" is a great caper film that also heralded the coming French New Wave. The electric, slang-filled French dialogue written by Auguste le Briton ("Rififi") has a rhythm and snap that is nicely mirrored in the cool, slick, sometimes sinister unfolding of the story itself. Unfortunately, the dialogue suffers a little in the not quite spot on English subtitles.

Director Jean-Pierre Melville pretty much invented the French crime film. After World War II Melville (real last name Grumbach), made films on a shoestring, on location and without stars. He was alone among all French filmmakers who made pictures entirely on his terms. This 1955 film, with a budget about ten times bigger than a typical French film of its time, is also a loving portrait of Paris and an homage to the noirish American films of the 40s and early 50s. Especially John Huston's "Asphalt Jungle."

Roger Duchesne is Bob, a courtly gangster with a natty style not unlike the late mobster kingpin Gotti, who plans on robbing the Deauville casino. But the film is not so much about the details of Bob's one last heist as it is about playing with the genre itself. Bob is a dark knight with a code of loyalty that conflicts with the amorality of his profession just as the filmmaker Melville toys with the makings of a new film tradition. A terrific film that beats the old and new versions of "Ocean's Eleven."

This new digital transfer, like all Criterion discs, is superb. Extras include an interview with Daniel Cauchy ("Paulo") and a radio interview with director Melville, who was so enamored of American culture that he took the last name of Moby Dick's author.
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Format: DVD
I first saw this movie at a local film festival a year ago and fell in love with it. The characters are fascinating, ones you want to revisit again and again. And what a terrific caper! Isabelle Corey, one of the great but unrecognized beauties of the '50s, is marvelous.
It's great to now own this film on DVD. Lots of good extra features, including an audio interview with the director (from 1960) and a brand new filmed interview with one of the stars.
If you enjoy film noir and "gangster" films, this French classic is a must.
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Format: DVD
Flamber is a French verb which means to wager not just the money you have but the money you don't have. Bob Montagne (Roger Duchesne) has earned his nickname. He's a compulsive gambler, unable to pass a card table or a game of chemin de fer without pausing, then sitting in. He's such a poor gambler, or an unlucky one, that he consistently loses. Bob also is a man with a code of honor and a style. He's middle aged with white hair and a smooth face. He's at heart a gangster and has served time in prison. He's been straight for 20 years, always dresses well and keeps an apartment with a view of the Seine and Sacre-Coeur. He drives a polished, two-tone Cadillac convertible. He once saved the life of Inspector Ledru (Guy Decomble), with whom he is friendly, and keeps under his wing the callow son, Paulo (Daniel Cauchy), of an old mob friend. He intervenes when a young girl, Anne (Isabelle Corey), is about to fall into the clutches of a pimp and takes her to his apartment so she'll have a place to stay...not to sleep with, however. That would be against his code. And when Bob loses his last 700 francs, he learns that the casino at Deauville will have as much as 800 million francs in its safe. The temptation is too much. He and a good friend decide to rob the place. They bring in Paulo, they find a casino croupier to provide inside information, they recruit experienced gangsters, they find a backer. Bob and his gang plan the heist down to the last detail, starting with the chalked outline of the casino in an open field, to careful practice on a duplicate safe, to a clever, short fantasy introduced by a narrator who tells us, "Here's how Bob pictured the heist," that should have you smiling.Read more ›
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Format: VHS Tape
If 'Bob le Flambeur' is known at all today it is as inspiration for the New Wave, with its cheap location shooting, its cinephilia (especially american) and its dismantling of genre. In this, it is perhaps even more successful than 'A Bout de Souffle' - despite Godard's best efforts, he is defeated by the charisma of his stars.
Melville called 'Bob' a 'comedy of manners', and it is much lighter in tone than his later, more famous gangster films. As the title suggests, it is Bob's gambling, rather than criminality, that is important - look at how the circle of the roulette wheel and horses shape the film's imagery and structure.
There is a tragic gangster plot, a heist, an Oedipal conflict, but they co-exist with the comedy, a dream modernism and a documentary evocation of 1950s Montmartre (its nightclubs, neon lights and cacophony of sounds (three years before 'Touch of Evil')) and Deauville (its casinos and beaches). This is the sort of movie that will spend ten minutes on a man playing cards, and one on the heist he has spent the whole movie organising.
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