The great gentleman thief, Arsène Lupin, engages in a series of daring schemes to deprive his wealthy countrymen of rare jewels and priceless paintings. His activities arouse the interest of Kaiser William II of Germany who arranges for Lupin to be kidnapped and brought to his castle. The Kaiser offers Lupin a challenge: to steal a jewel of great value from a secret hiding place. Should Lupin accept the wager? Continue reading
Reviewed by Glenn Erickson
Le Trou (literally, The Hole) is a harrowing experience in claustrophobia, pressure and hope among inmates in a French prison. The hopes and aspirations of the overcrowded members of one prison cell are put to the test as they commit their trust to luck and each other, to effect a difficult escape. Jacques Becker’s final film is the most realistic prison break movie Savant’s seen – as we all know how these stories usually turn out, the tension and suspense grow, every desperate step of the way.
The La Santé is overcrowded because of construction, and five men are put into each cell instead of four. But in one cell, the inmates are secretly delighted. Claude Gaspard (Marc Michel), faces a long sentence and therefore can be trusted. He’ll be the extra man needed for a daring, complicated escape the men have planned, that requires nerve, deception, and a lot of digging. The scheme is such a beautifully executed communal effort, that when the first diggers break through to the outside world, they dutifully go back so that their comrades can escape too. Continue reading
Jean Gabin is at his most wearily romantic as aging gangster Max le Menteur in the Jacques Becker gem Touchez pas au grisbi (Hands Off the Loot!). Having pulled off the heist of a lifetime, Max looks forward to spending his remaining days relaxing with his beautiful young girlfriend. But when Riton (René Dary), Max’s hapless partner and best friend, lets word of the loot slip to loose-lipped, two-timing Josy (Jeanne Moreau), Max is reluctantly drawn back into the underworld. A touchstone of the gangster-film genre, Touchez pas au grisbi is also pure Becker—understated, elegant, evocative. Continue reading