Thursday, July 9, 2009

Casque d'or

Jacques Becker, 1952, France, bw (7.9*)
This is a beautifully shot black and white crime film, with some terrific and innovative direction by Jacques Becker, and which was to have much influence on later French directors. The story is almost secondary to the style and look of this film. Based on police records in Paris in the 1890s, Casque D'or is a rich film, with beautiful art direction and camera movement which often follows characters as they pass, which should excite film buffs who like unique camerawork and gorgeous lighting. You may say the design is based on impressionist art, as even the opening scene of the gang arriving in boats is reminiscent of a Monet painting. There's very little violence here, only one major incident upon which the plot pivots.

A former convict going straight, Georges Manda (Serge Reggiani), becomes a carpenter, but remains friends with a former cellmate. Seeing his buddy at a dance, he meets gang moll Marie, played by a young and beautiful Simone Signoret; love soon begins to disrupt his new life, as his story now becomes entertwined with the gang's. Signoret is very classy and elegant here, and usually wears an irresistable Mona Lisa smile; she is the epitome of the long-haired screen goddess in this early role. Ironically considered a failure at first, this received critical acclaim in the U.S. and is now considered a classic worldwide. #543 on our top ranked films survey.


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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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