by Brad Nelson
A 1959 French film, loosely based on a true story from a book written by a guy who was once on death row (he was eventually pardoned) in the cell next to the featured character, Abel Davos, played criminally (in the good sense) by Lino Ventura.
That backdrop particularly suits this film in which you run across quite a few people who have absolutely no qualms against mixing with murderers, robbers, and thugs. But, hey, they’re French!
And Italian. This film starts out there with Abel, his wife and kids, and his best-fiend, Raymond, doing a “tour” of the country. You do a couple jobs, things get too hot, and then you have to move on. Well, Abel, gets in an even tougher jam than usual and has to call for assistance from his fellow gang members in France. Is there honor among thieves? Find out.
The way this film starts, hey, it makes crime look like a lot of good fun. Fresh air, nice vistas, good friends, and plenty of easy money. But they say crime doesn’t pay. And yet it’s a way of life many people choose. But you feel sorry for Aldo’s two young children (5 and 8) who he drags around with him everywhere.
This is a very good crime flick, well acted, and full of Godfather-like relationships among friends which are always full of both “love ya forever” sentiment and “get rid of him” detachment.
The plot moves along nicely in this intelligent film that gets the added benefit of being set in a foreign country with foreign writers and directors. Rather than a goofy Hollywood take on criminals, this makes the entire story feel all too real and is almost completely free of clichés. And yet in no way does it delve into the range of “weird-ass foreign film.” It’s just a film well done.
I give it a well-deserived 3.5 fake ambulances out of 5. For those who don’t like foreign films because sometimes they’re a bit bizarre, obtuse, and “out there,” this one is very watchable. • (624 views)