Let’s return to our mini-festival of 1956 films. On my list of the best films of 1956, The Searchers is 1st and The Burmese Harp is 2nd. Maybe it should be the other way around. Bresson’s A Man Escaped is third, but we’ve covered that one before in this series. So 4th on my list is Jean-Pierre Melville’s excellent Bob Le Flambeur. This is a classic heist film by one of the greatest directors in French film history (I’d take over any of the New Wave directors except maybe Rohmer and even there probably not). Roger Duchense is Bob, an aging gambler looking for one last score. This plot line will never grow old, no matter how many films and TV shows and crime novels have gone there. The man is a super gentlemen, a respected man in the crime community, someone who has stayed out of trouble for twenty years and is still beloved by all. But when he hears about a huge opportunity to pull a gigantic heist, he just can’t resist that one last score. Of course, the problem with this kind of story is that most criminals are idiots, even if our hero isn’t. So things….don’t quite go right. But don’t be too sad, Bob isn’t going to make out too bad in the end.
Interestingly, the film was not that well received in France at the time and bombed at the box office. But it later became a classic of gangster film.