Une Balle dans le Canon (1958)

vt A Bullet in the Gun Barrel; vt Slug in the Heater
France / 69 minutes / bw / Filmatec, Les Films Corona Dir: Charles Gérard, Michel Deville Pr: Michel et François Sweerts Scr: Albert Simonin, Charles Gérard Story: Albert Simonin Cine: Claude Lecomte Cast: Pierre Vaneck, Mijanou Bardot, Paul Frankeur, Roger Hanin, Hazel Scott, Gérard Buhr, Colette Duval, Don Ziegler, Robert Le Béal, Yves Arcanel, Jean Rochefort, Mario David, Pierre Cordier, Roger Desmare, Michael Lonsdale, Jean-Pierre Moutier, Albert Simonin

A thoroughly enjoyable slice of French noir that I missed, alas, when writing A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Film Noir. Its co-director, Michel Deville, would go on to greater things, including a few movies of noirish interest—see below.

Back in Saigon during the French war in Indochina, paratroopers Antoine “Tony” Rossi (Vaneck) and his pal Dick (Hanin) met up with a shady figure called Boris Shivara (Ziegler), generally known in crime circles as Le Maltais (“The Maltese”). He gave them 25 million francs to smuggle into France on their return from service, plus a bonus of two million as commission. They soon enough blew the two million but, when Le Maltais failed to turn up and they assumed he was an ex-Maltais, pining for the fjords, invested the 25 million in a nightclub, the Tip-Tap. After all, the guy who sold it to them, Alberto (Buhr), promised that if need be he’d buy it back from them at the purchase price should they ever need the 25 million in a hurry—i.e., should Le Maltais ever turn up.

Pierre Vaneck as Antoine ‘Tony’ Rossi

The Tip-Tap, alas, loses money hand over fist, and then Le Maltais arrives in town demanding his money pronto or blood will be shed. Alberto is oddly forgetful about Continue reading

Lucky Jo (1964)

France / 87 minutes / bw / UGC, Les Films Sirius, Les Productions Jacques Roitfeld, Belmont, Eléfilm, CFDC Dir: Michel Deville Pr: Jacques Roitfeld Scr: Nina Companeez, Michel Deville Story: Main Pleine (1959) by Pierre-Vial Lesou Cine: Claude Lecomte Cast: Eddie Constantine, Pierre Brasseur, Georges Wilson, Christiane Minazzoli, Claude Brasseur, Françoise Arnoul, Jean-Pierre Darras, André Cellier, Christian Barbier, Anouk Ferjac, Marcelle Ranson, Jean-Paul Cisife, Jean-Pierre Rambal, Pierre Asso, Pierre Le Rumeur, Jacques Echantillon, Willy Braque, Jean-Pierre Moutier, Bernard Mongourdin.

A movie that’s commonly listed as a comedy although it doesn’t comfortably fit that description. Yes, there’s a lot of—often very funny—comedy in it, but there are elements too of tragedy and pathos. Its mixture of moods is rather like that of real life, in fact, where we can laugh at human follies and weep at their tragic consequences.

In Paris, three French crooks—Simon Archambaut (Wilson), Napo (Darras) and Gabriel Farkas (Cellier)—and their expat American colleague, Christopher “Lucky Jo” Jowett (Constantine), use various inventive strategies to commit their crimes; in the opening sequence, for example, we see them dressed as monks to carry out a bank stick-up, afterward fleeing ungainly on foot like crippled bats through the cobbled Parisian streets. The Parisian trio eventually notice, however, that, every time Lucky Jo goes along on a job, something unpredictable goes awry and one of the others ends up doing a jail term.

Eddie Constantine as Lucky Jo (left) and Jean-Pierre Darras as Napo.

Finally it’s the getaway from an apartment burglary that—hilariously—screws up, and this time Jo himself is Continue reading