My Review of ‘Bob le flambeur’ (1956)

While this film could be considered a gangster movie or a heist film, it is also considered a film noir and a precursor to the French New Wave.

The title translates to read “Bob the Gambler” or “Bob the High Roller” in English. So … what about Bob? Well you might ask.

“I got friends in this town.” (Via The Criterion Collection)

Bob (played by the very white-haired Bob Montagné) is an ex-con who served time for bank robbery. He’s clearly a gambling addict, because he keeps at it, despite the fact that he is losing and digging himself deeper into the hole. Otherwise, he seems like a nice enough guy. He even tries to protect a young woman named Anne (played by Isabelle Corey) from an abusive pimp named Marc (played by Gérard Buhr). He encourages his young protégé Paolo (played by Daniel Cauchy) to get to know Anne.

“You’re stepping on my foot, Gramps.” (Via Cinedogs)

Unfortunately, even though Marc is arrested for mistreating Anne, he gets released after promising to provide the cops with any hot tips, aka, to be an informant or, in other words, a stoolie, a pigeon, a snitch, a rat.

And once it’s revealed that Bob and his friend Roger (a safecracker played by André Garet) plan to pull a major heist at a casino, it’s not hard to figure out where this one’s heading.

The heist is naturally all planned out to a T and should be a slam dunk or a day at the beach or a piece of cake. Except that Paolo makes the same mistake that guy Peter in Office Space did. He blabs the scheme to Anne, who’s dumb enough to tell Marc the Nasty Pimp/Rat/Snitch all about it.

And it helps not at all that Bob the Gambling Addict has to wait for several hours in the very casino they’re robbing. And he would pick this time to have amazingly good luck at the gambling table, causing things to go a bit awry.

“My name is Bob. Bob le flambeur.” (Image via Rabbit-Reviews)

Need I say more?

Okay, I will. The success of the casino job depends on the safecracker’s speed and, as it happens, this safe is particularly hard to crack. So, there is a great deal of suspense throughout as to how he does the job and whether he’ll do it fast enough. Not to mention the timing, in general.

And, well, it’s Paris. It’s cool. It’s noir. It’s the bleeding edge of the New Wave.

Now, need I say more?

Trivia: This movie influenced two versions of the films Ocean’s Eleven (1960 and 2001). It also influenced Paul Thomas Anderson’s Hard Eight. Now, that’s a movie I’d like to see again.

Directed by Jean-Pierre Melville
Produced by Jean-Pierre Melville and Serge Silberman
Screenplay by Jean-Pierre Melville

Check out the preview! I forgot to mention the awesome Simone Paris in the part of the bartender, Yvonne.

This entry was posted in 1950s Films, Crime Movies, Film Noir, Movie Reviews and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to My Review of ‘Bob le flambeur’ (1956)

  1. moviefanman says:

    I love Bob le Flambeur!!!!!!!! One of the first French films I read about that got me curious to check out Foreign Language films. The ending isn’t exactly how you want it to go for Bob, but there’s something still satisfying about it. I have the Studio Canal UK Blu Ray Boxset of Melville’s films, as well the original Criterion Collection DVD, which shows how much I like the film. Eddie Muller gave a pretty good history of the film when he showed it on Noir Alley, but he forgot to mention that star Roger Duchesne owed a gambling debt to the French Mafia, another major reason Melville had to do some sweet talking to get him back to Paris to work on the film.

    Before I forget, I tagged you for the Desert Island Film Tag

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This looks utterly terrific. I love that they used the name “Bob”.

    Liked by 1 person

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