I love when the Great Movies – 100 Years of Film brings me a film that I’d never heard of, and then makes me fall in love with it. I dove back into the thriller and crime chapter of the book and was promptly introduced to this brilliant French film that tells of the perfect crime… until the human element comes into play.
We’re introduced to Tony (Jean Servais) an ex-con who just got out of prison, family man, Jo (Carl Mohner), Mario (Robert Manuel) and safe cracker Cesar (director Jules Dassin). The four come together with a fool-proof plan to knock over a jewelry store, that will set them up for life.
There are other things going on in the film as well, as we learn that Tony’s girl, Mado (Marie Sabouret) didn’t waste any time when he went to prison, and has taken up with a vicious club owner named Grutter (Pierre Grasset).
During the planning of the heist, they spend a lot of time in Grutter’s club, and Cesar falls for one of the club’s ladies, Viviane (Magali Noel). And the planning covers every detail. They know delivery schedules, police routes, store and street layout, the store’s routine, and the alarm system.
The planning of the robbery is great, as there are a number of cool moments as they figure out how to get around the alarm system, and then there is the robbery itself. This is a singularly brilliant sequence. We follow the robbery from start to finish in a virtually silent 30 minute sequence. I loved this bit!
Once the robbery is out-of-the-way, each of the men begin to succumb to their greed and desire. Cesar keeps one of the rings from the robbery and gives it to Viviane, telling her it’s a fake, when in fact it is worth in excess of a million dollars. Grutter, however, recognizes it for what it is, and begins to put together that Cesar and his friends must be the ones responsible for jewelry heist in all the papers.
Bodies begin to pile up as Grutter goes after all of the jewels, killing anyone who stands in his way, and Tony is determined to take the club owner down himself. But when Grutter grabs Jo’s little boy and demands the jewels in ransom, things get dangerous for all parties.
Each man’s selfishness ends up being their undoing, as all their hard work comes apart, leading to the climax, and the wonderful sequence of getting Jo’s son home.
I loved this one, the pacing, the acting, the way we see the whole crime play out, and then its fallout, it was an amazing ride, and I was stunned that I had never heard of this one before, but I’m so glad that I’ve seen it now!
This one was brilliant, dark violent, and wonderfully intense!