Jacques BeckerFrance / Italy96 minutes1954B&WFrench
"Unbeatable as a gripping story of loyalty, betrayal, and the price of friendship in the Parisian underworld" (Kenneth Turan, The Los Angeles Times). Jean Gabin won the Best Actor award at the Venice Film Festival and Jeanne Moreau made her mark as a coke-snorting moll in this immensely influential classic, which was well-loved by the directors of the French New Wave (Godard claimed that before the New Wave, "the only person who really tried to see France was Jacques Becker"). The tale is familiar — a falling-out amongst thieves after a gold heist — but Becker's psychological insight and evocation of atmosphere turn the conventional subject into "a wonderful treasure" (Turan). Standing out amidst the superb cast (which includes Jean-Pierre Melville regular Lino Ventura, in his first screen role), Gabin is particularly moving as a gangster who is knowingly past his prime, and Becker puts much emphasis on the aged crook's high style (crisply laundered pyjamas, foie gras and white wine for a late-night snack).