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Bob le Flambeur (The Criterion Collection) (1956)

Gerard Buhr , Daniel Cauchy , Jean-Pierre Melville  |  PG |  DVD
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)

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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: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000633SC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #198,668 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Bob le Flambeur (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features

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

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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars COMEDY OF MANNERS AND MENACE July 17, 2002
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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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great discovery! October 11, 2002
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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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A staggering, hugely influential, one-off. April 11, 2001
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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Add it to your collection April 10, 2004
By A Customer
This, of course, is a great movie and the DVD also has a really interesting interview with Daniel Clauchy, the actor who plays Paulo, talking about the experience of making this film and working with Melville. Also, an interesting interview with Melville excerpted in the DVD booklet. Not to be a brat, but it's worth nothing that, although one of the other reviewers writes the budget for this film was 10X that of other films of the time, it is actually the opposite--Melville shot this for about 18 million (old) francs, about a tenth of what other feature films cost at that time. He used his own script, unknown actors--famously discovering 15 yr old Isabelle Corey walking down the street--and only a small crew, cutting as many costs as possible. The film, however, looks big budget--gorgeous shots of Montmartre, Pigalle, and Parisian nightlife and a beautifully slick, noir style. Isabelle Corey is wonderful, but also see Guy Decomble from 400 Blows as the police inspector.
It's just a great movie: it's meticulously crafted, there's nothing falsely intellectual about it, and it's interesting to see how much influence this has had on all the heist films that have followed.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars The DVD did not allow to Select English subtitle
Even tho the option was on the dvd menu, I was unable to change to any other language then what it came in. Instead of giving me a dvd that worked, they told me to return it. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Alan J. DeFelice
1.0 out of 5 stars A totally unsympathetic set of characters (except for the policeman)
A totally unsympathetic set of characters (except for the policeman). . .

Bob is generous with his money and fairly distinguished looking, but for the last twenty years... Read more
Published 4 months ago by rwx
4.0 out of 5 stars Very cool
Great film in my opinion. I love "The Good Thief" which is a modern telling of this story, and did not discover "Bob Le Flambeur" until recently. Read more
Published 4 months ago by gum
4.0 out of 5 stars The French really know how to do it…
Jean-Pierre Melville sets a very laidback yet assertive tone in ‘Bob le Flambeur’, a film about a former gangster turned avid gambler who supports some young kids falling into bad... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Andrew Ellington
2.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as I expected
I had heard that this was a heist movie like Oceans Eleven and that, in fact, that movie had to some degree inspired this one. Oceans Eleven is a far better movie. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Ken Crumpler
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Entertaining!
They don't make them like this any more. It starts a bit slow, (which is why it's not a five-star), but hang in there. By the end, you be glad you did.
Published 7 months ago by M. Ciarochi
3.0 out of 5 stars The film from the time French cinematography lead
In the pre-computing epoch of simply believing into Lady Luck ex-crim Bob made a living in the France of the fifties last century with gambling (and hidden proceedings of money... Read more
Published 22 months ago by Michael Kerjman
4.0 out of 5 stars Good for Melville
Much better than his other films that are dead slow spending too much time on the in betweens. This one does get going a bit. Too bad his other films are not this way.
Published on January 24, 2012 by Shock Writer
4.0 out of 5 stars A heist film which focuses mostly on the planning
A very well made heist film which focuses mostly on the planning of the heist and very little on the execution. Read more
Published on December 16, 2011 by Michael Harbour
5.0 out of 5 stars Honor among gamblers
The director of this movie, Jean-Pierre Melville, was fascinated by the concept of honor. In both this film and Le Samourai, the central character is acting throughout the movie... Read more
Published on June 23, 2011 by S. Smith-Peter
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