Review: Bob le Flambeur

Bob le Flambeur is a French film noir from Jean-Pierre Melville. Melville also came up with the story and co-wrote the screenplay.

This story has a lot of characters and plot lines, all of which revolve around Bob, played by Roger Duchesne. Bob is a gambler and has had many successes, but is on a losing streak and is about out of money. We see him go through the night losing money at one casino and then another. As he goes through the city we meet our femme fatale, the young Anne played by Isabelle Corey. Bob’s young protegé, played by Daniel Cauchy, meets him for drinks. A pimp played by Gérard Buhr, bursts into his apartment in the middle of the night. The Pimp needs some money to leave town, he has beat up one of his girls and put her in the hospital. The pimp is afraid she will press charges this time. We also meet other characters like the cop who Bob saved from being shot years ago, and other gangsters and con men.

When Bob is out of money, he comes up with a plan to rob a casino. He uses his connections to set up a team of robbers and con artists to help him pull it off. Can a gang of outlaws work together to rob a casino? Will somebody double cross the team? Will Bob’s gambling get in the way?

This is a very good film, a film with a story I thought I had seen before, and I guess I have. This film has been remade as The Good Thief by Neil Jordan. It also was an influence on Sinatra’s Ocean’s 11 as well as Soderbergh’s re-make.Quentin Tarantino says this is his favorite gangster film and was an influence on Reservoir Dogs. Stanley Kubrick says he stopped making crime films after this movie, saying he could never top this film. It is also Jim Jarmusch favorite film. So needless to say this film has been an important influence on many of the great film makers of today and has been cribbed for some of the best heist films since its release.

So if that doesn’t make you want to check it out I don’t know what will. If you haven’t seen it in a while, re-watch it to see if you can pick up on how this movie touched so many movies that came after it.

Review: Le Cercle Rouge


Le Cercle Rouge translates to The Red Circle in English.  The reason I wanted to watch this was a little tidbit of trivia from the film John Wick.  When I was looking at the background of that film, the night club in one of the scenes has a red circle neon sign and the club is called the Red Circle.  Someone said this was in homage to this film.  That was enough for me to watch and review this movie.   Here is my review of John Wick:

Jean-Pierre Melville wrote and directed this film and was his next to last film before his untimely death of a heart attack at age 55.  Melville wrote and directed many classic neo noir films from France and made some masterpieces, this being one.  Melville is an important influence on today’s neo noir and crime directors.  Influencing a who’s who of today’s talent.  John Woo, Quentin Tarantino, Michael Mann, Volker Schlöndorff, Johnnie To,  Martin Scorsese and fellow countrymen Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut all said Melville was a big influence on their work.  Needless to say we will be looking at more of Melville’s movies on this site as well as those he influenced.  Melville had the idea for this film in 1950 but shelved it until 1970 because of the similarities to the Asphalt Jungle that came out that year.  He held on to the idea 20 years, until he started working on this project in 1970.  Here is my review of the Asphalt Jungle:

Alain Delon plays our main protagonist and appears in a number of Melville movies.  Delon/Melville seem to be the French version of the USA’s De Niro/Scorsese.  Bourvil plays the police detective set on the case.  Gian Maria Volonté plays a recently escaped convict on the run and teams up with our hero for a big score.  Yves Montand plays a retired cop with chemical dependency issues and knows both our lead detective and our escaped convict.  He teams up with our thieves for the big score.

One of the things this film is famous for is the 25 minute heist scene.  There are no words spoken and had to be influenced by Riffi from 1955.  I will re-watch Riffi and review it later for this site.

Our story starts with our protagonist in jail and is visited by a money man that lets him know he will be getting out tomorrow, on one condition.  A job, one that is made for him and one that he will get away clean, as long as he doesn’t screw up!  Famous last words, right?  We also have our convict handcuffed on a train in the company of our lead detective, he escapes and is on the run.  Our two outlaws meet in a very unusual way and our adventure begins.

I already mentioned how John Wick gave a nod to this film, and I think there are many more.  I can’t help noticing this has many similarities in plot points to Heat, reviewed here:

And the scene in the forest reminded me of a similar scene in Miller’s Crossing, reviewed here:


I also seen small similarities in Ocean’s Eleven.  What other movies do you think used this for inspiration?  Let me know in the comments below.

There has been a remake in the work for years, with Orlando Bloom and Liam Neeson rumored to be attached. From some reports this may be dead now.  A remake could be brilliant or it could be a big disaster.  How do you remake a classic of this caliber?  Worst case scenario is a remake will bring attention to the original.  This is a must see for neo-noir fans, and foreign movie fans alike.  It is a little long and the pacing deliberate, but is well worth your time.