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Touchez pas au grisbi

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Touchez pas au grisbi
Italian film poster
Directed byJacques Becker
Screenplay byJacques Becker
Albert Simonin
Maurice Griffe
Based onTouchez pas au grisbi by Albert Simonin
Produced byRobert Dorfmann
StarringJean Gabin
René Dary
Dora Doll
Paul Frankeur
Jeanne Moreau
Lino Ventura
CinematographyPierre Montazel
Edited byMarguerite Renoir
Music byJean Wiener
Distributed byLes Films Corona
Release dates
  • 3 March 1954 (1954-03-03) (France)
  • 9 September 1954 (1954-09-09) (Italy)
Running time
94 minutes
CountriesFrance
Italy
LanguageFrench
Box office4,710,496 admissions (France)[1]
$131,548[2]
(2003 US re-release)

Touchez pas au grisbi ([tu.ʃeoɡʁiz.bi], French for "Don't touch the loot"), released as Honour Among Thieves in the United Kingdom and Grisbi in the United States, is a 1954 French-Italian crime film based on a novel by Albert Simonin. It was directed by Jacques Becker and stars Jean Gabin, with René Dary, Paul Frankeur, Lino Ventura, Jeanne Moreau, Dora Doll, and Marilyn Buferd. The film was screened in competition at the 1954 Venice Film Festival where Gabin won a best actor award.[3]

The film is the first installment of the so-called "Max le Menteur trilogy", which are all based on novels by Simonin, but feature different characters; it was followed by Le cave se rebiffe and Les tontons flingueurs, both of which are more comedic than Grisbi.

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Transcription

Plot

Max, a principled middle-aged Parisian gangster, has dinner at Madame Bouche's restaurant, a hangout for criminals, with his longtime-associate Riton, their much younger burlesque-dancer girlfriends, and Max's protege Marco. The group then goes to crime-boss Pierrot's nightclub, where the girls perform and Max gets Marco a job as a drug dealer working for Pierrot. After the show, Max discovers Riton's girlfriend, Josy, making out with Angelo, another gangster, but he does not tell Riton.

On the way back to his apartment, Max notices he is being followed by two of Angelo's men in an ambulance. He gets the drop on them and chases them away, after which he calls Riton and warns him not to go with Angelo, who has just asked Riton to do a job with him. Max takes Riton to an apartment no one knows about and shows Riton that he has been storing the eight gold bars they stole during a recent heist at Orly Airport in the trunk of a car parked in the building's garage. Upstairs, the two friends eat a simple meal, during which Max tells Riton about Josy and Angelo and gets Riton to admit he had hinted to Josy about the big score to impress her. Max surmises Josy told Angelo, who planned to kidnap Max and Riton and beat the location of the gold out of them that night. He reveals he is sick of the criminal lifestyle and plans to retire with the money from the airport heist, and tells Riton to leave Josy to the younger Angelo.

The next morning, Max leaves early to take the gold to his uncle, a fence who tells Max he needs some time to gather enough money to buy the gold. Max returns to his apartment and finds Riton has left, so he calls the Hotel Moderna, at which both Josy and Riton live, and is told by the porter that Riton was there, but was just taken away in an ambulance. Assuming Riton went to see Josy and was caught by Angelo's men, Max considers leaving his friend in the lurch, even going to see Betty, his wealthy girlfriend, when she calls, but, by that night, he has decided to save Riton.

Max gets Marco, and the pair go to the Hotel Moderna, where Max roughly, but unsuccessfully, interrogates Josy and the porter about where Angelo could be hiding Riton, while Marco captures Fifi, one of Angelo's henchmen, who was watching for Max to come by. They take Fifi to the nightclub to get Pierrot's help interrogating him, but Fifi does not seem to know anything useful. Angelo, alerted to Max's location by a henchman staking out the nightclub, telephones and proposes to trade Riton for the gold, and Max agrees. He, Marco, and Pierrot arm themselves, get the gold, and head out in Fifi's car.

On a deserted country road, Riton is returned unharmed, and Max hands over the gold. After Angelo's car drives away, Riton warns Max that Angelo had traveled with a second car, which appears in the distance. Angelo's henchmen blow up Fifi's car with hand grenades, killing Marco, and come to mop up the scene, but Max, Pierrot, and Riton gun them down and take their car to chase Angelo. A shootout ensues, during which Riton is wounded and Angelo's car crashes. Angelo attempts to throw a grenade at Max's group, but he gets shot and the grenade blows him up and sets his car on fire. As a truck approaches, Max is forced to leave the gold in the hotly-burning wreck.

Back at Pierrot's, Riton is patched up by a mob doctor. Riton urges Max to go about his normal routine to avoid suspicion that he was involved in the previous night's carnage, so Max takes Betty to Madame Bouche's for lunch. Everyone is talking about the recovery of the stolen gold from the wreck of Angelo's car, and some other diners ask Max if he believes Angelo was really the thief. Max calls to check on Riton and learns Riton has died. He plays his favorite song on the jukebox and sits down to eat.

Cast

  • Jean Gabin as Max, known as Max "le Menteur" ("the liar"), a Parisian criminal
  • René Dary as Henri Ducros, known as "Riton" (a diminutive form of "Henri"), Max's best friend and accomplice
  • Dora Doll as Lola, a dancer who is seeing Max
  • Paul Frankeur as Pierrot, a night club owner and underworld boss
  • Jeanne Moreau as Josy, a dancer who is leaving Riton for Angelo
  • Vittorio Sanipoli as Ramon, one of Angelo's henchmen
  • Marilyn Buferd as Betty, Max's wealthy girlfriend
  • Gaby Basset as Marinette, Pierrot's wife and the manager of his club
  • Paul Barge as Eugène, the man who helps Max carry the gold up to Oscar's office
  • Alain Bouvette as Taxi Driver
  • Daniel Cauchy as Fifi, Angelo's henchman who is caught by Marco and tortured by Pierrot
  • Denise Clair as Madame Bouche, the owner of a restaurant
  • Angelo Dessy as Bastien, one of Angelo's henchmen
  • Michel Jourdan as Marco, Max's protégé
  • Paul Oettly as Oscar, Max's uncle and fence
  • Jean Riveyre as Porter at the Hotel Moderna
  • Delia Scala as Huguette, Oscar's secretary
  • Umberto Silvestri as one of Angelo's henchmen
  • Lucilla Solivani as Nana, Pierrot's secretary
  • Lino Ventura as Angelo Fraiser, an ambitious criminal with his own gang

Background

Director Jacques Becker read the novel Touchez pas au grisbi by Albert Simonin in 1953,[4] and felt that it would be interesting subject for film-goers. He had been taken by his friend Henri-Georges Clouzot's film Le Salaire de la peur, which won the (Palme d'or au Festival de Cannes that year. Becker was then seeking to be back in favour with cinema audiences and thus with producers after the lack of commercial success of his two most recent films.[4]

The screenwriters toned down the violence, racism and general sordid nature of the original Simonin novel, and Becker "gave French film noir a hugely successful new twist, creating the French gangster film... Grisbi encapsulates the genre".[5] Touchez pas au grisbi is Becker's only gangster film, where he took the genre forward by combining "a pensive meditation on age, friendship, and lost opportunities" with traditional elements "double-crossings, violence, kidnappings, gun battles", and was influential on French police dramas in the future with its "mood of ironic, existential fatalism".[6]

Grisbi engages lightly with regular themes such as hoodlums, nightclubs, gangsters’ girls and gunfights. Becker adds to this an attention to "everyday rituals" particularly in a scene where they take wine and pâté on toast at a secret apartment.[5]

French actor Daniel Gélin was first offered the role of Max, but he turned it down, seeing himself as too young for the part. Despite his admiration for Gabin - especially in Les Bas-fonds and La Grande Illusion, Becker was at first reluctant to cast him since he represented the past of French cinema and had yet to rediscover his élan in the post-war era after returning from the United States.[4] Nonetheless he sent the scenario to Gabin, who accepted to play the central role, exploiting the actor's more mature look.[4] Gabin’s film career had been drifting somewhat since the war, and Grisbi revived it and led him into the success in older roles in the latter part of his career.[6] Touchez pas au grisbi marked the film debut of Lino Ventura. While Becker was looking for his Riton, Gabin introduced him to René Dary, who had found fame during the war years during the Occupation in rôles which Gabin might otherwise had made his own; Gabin also proposed Gaby Basset, his ex-wife, to play the wife of Pierrot.[4]

Rue Victor Massé, 9th arrondissement of Paris, where the nightclub scene at the start of the film was shot.

Shooting began in the Billancourt studios, but extended to outside filming in and around Paris and Nice in the autumn of 1953.[4] The principal crew were formed of individuals whom Becker knew well; Jean d’Eaubonne for décors, Pierre Montazel, Colette Crochot on the script and Marguerite Renoir for editing. Marc Maurette, former assistant to Becker at the start of his career, returned, as well as Becker's eldest son Jean.[4]

Wiener had followed the shooting of the film with care and had decided with Becker to concentrate on two themes for the soundtrack: one for Max and another for the comradeship of Max and Riton. After Renoir had given him the first cut of the film's sequences she explained that Becker was thinking of using a song by Mezz Mezzrow for the 'juke-box' theme. To forestall this Wiener worked overnight, and was convinced that he should use a harmonica as the main instrument, having recently been impressed by the playing of a Jean Wetzel. The song 'The Touch/Le Grisbi' became the biggest money-spinner of Wiener's career and soon began an existence outside the film, in recordings by among others Richard Hayman, The Commanders, Harry James, Sy Oliver, Ted Heath, Larry Adler, Stanley Black and Betty Johnson.[7]

Reception

The film was the fourth-most popular release at the French box office in 1954.[1] Touchez pas au grisbi gave Becker his first big box-office success since Goupi mains rouges of 1943.[6]

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 100% approval rating based on reviews from 25 critics, with a weighted average score of 8.30/10.[8] It is also on Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" list.[9]

A restored edition of the film was published in 2017.[10]

References

  1. ^ a b "1954 Box Office in France". Box Office Story.
  2. ^ Box Office Mojo
  3. ^ Lambert, Gavin. In the picture - Venice. Sight and Sound, October to December 1954, p58.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Touchez pas au Grisbi – Jacques Becker (1954), Mon cinema a moi, 25 February 2018 accessed 8 March 2024.
  5. ^ a b Ginette Vincendeau. How the French birthed film noir. (Sight & Sound magazine features - Deep Focus, 7 May 2019. accessed 8 March 2024.
  6. ^ a b c [Kemp, Philip. Touchez pas au grisbi - A Neglected Master. The Criterion Collection 17 January 2005.] accessed 8 March 2024.
  7. ^ Wiener, Jean. Allegro Appasionato. Pierre Belfond, Paris, 1978, p141-144.
  8. ^ "Touchez Pas au Grisbi (1954)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved June 17, 2022.
  9. ^ Ebert, Roger (February 1, 2004). "Touchez Pas au Grisbi (1954)". Retrieved May 20, 2016.
  10. ^ DVD/Blu-ray: Touchez Pas au Grisbi - Arts Desk, 29 August 2017, accessed 8 March 2024.

External links

This page was last edited on 1 May 2024, at 17:47
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