Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Melodie en sous-sol, 1963

MELODIE EN SOUS SOL is a gleaming black and white casino heist thriller which looks terrific in Scope and has that early '60s vibe to a tee. Its a variation on the old chestnut where an older guy plans a robbery, enlists a cocky young hotshot to carry it off, and then it all goes wrong. Or in this case - it all goes right, but then they lose the money in the most perfectly-judged climax, which must have sent punters out of the cinema with smiles on their faces ...

Charles (Jean Gabin), a sixtyish career criminal fresh out of jail, rejects his wife's plan for a quiet life of bourgeois respectability. He enlists a former cellmate, Francis (Alain Delon), to assist him in pulling off one final score, a carefully planned assault on the vault of a Cannes casino. Bad luck and Francis's lack of professionalism set the caper maddeningly askew, and the stolen cash resurfaces in an unexpected manner.

We like a good heist movie here at the Projector, whether classics like Huston's THE ASPHALT JUNGLE, Dassin's RIFIFI and TOPKAPI, or variations thereof like 5 AGAINST THE HOUSE, reviewed here a while back. The attraction here is the teaming of old hand Gabin, laconic as ever, and Alain Delon - here in his early '60s prime after those Clement, Antonioni and Visconti classics made him a prestige name. Director is old hand Henri Verneuil from a book called "The Big Grab", though the film was titled "The Big Snatch" on its UK release in 1964 ..... cinematography in black and white by Louis Page, musical score by Michael Magne, which is just right for that climax.

Gabin returned to his wife, Viviane Romance, from a prison stretch is plotting a final heist for his old age. He picks hothead young Delon as his help-mate to climb those ramparts and crawl along those heating ducts, and then their daring robbery as the Casino count their takings .... he also has to romance a showgirl to get access to the casino, but the females are on the periphery here. The final act is a delicious pay-off by the swimming pool .... Verneuil teamed Gabin and Delon again in THE SICILIAN CLAN in '68, and did another heist one THE BURGLARS with Belmondo & Sharif in '71, which may bear looking into. We enjoyed this one a lot though ...

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