Touchez Pas au Grisbi (1954)

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Jacques Becker directs Jean Gabin, Jeanne Moreau and Dora Doll in this French noir where a retiring gangster finds his stash under threat.

For the first hour this is wonderful hardboiled stuff and nothing of note really happens. An elegant fatalist Jean Gabin goes from restaurant to cabaret to fence’s office – drinking, turning down sexy beauties, being french. Then the plot finally kicks off with kidnaps, car chases and snitches getting hard slapped left, right and centre. This cliched behaviour is equally cool and pleasurable but that first half where we just luxuriate in his day to day pessimism is something else. Put it this way – how many thriller protagonists on discovering their partner has been caught and faces torture sits down for some pate and champagne, heads off out to bed a mistress for a full day, and only then considers his next course of action? The stuff of ageing bad boy dreams, a textbook of monochrome style.

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