Bob le flambeur (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1956)
Bob (Roger Duchesne), an old gangster and gambler is almost broke, so he decides in spite of the warnings of a friend, a high official from the police, to rob a gambling casino in Dauville.
As one of the French directors who orbited around the French New Wave without being really in it because he made films before and during the period of this revolution, Jean-Pierre Melville was a strong supporter of the young generation of filmmakers that were coming from Les Cahiers du Cinema emulating American films and threw a big rock into the calm pond of French films.
Melville's films are stylised gangster films widely inspired by Fritz Lang, Anthony Mann, William Wyler, Howard Hawks, and many other directors he regarded as true authorists and forefront names of the Film Noir genre. With Bob le flambeur, Melville does more than just a simple homage to the films and directors that he admired. He brought a French charm of the sexy women of Paris into the Femme Fatale element with Anne (Isabelle Corey) and a much more pessimistic view on gangsterism and transgressing the law. Yes, Bob is cool and his gambler friends have a hype around them, they get beautiful women and are all interested in easy money and low life living.
Having only seen Le samourai before visiting this popular entry in Melville's filmography, I was afraid that Bob didn't stand up as good as his other near masterpiece of coolness staring Alain Delon and one of the most interesting guns and hat movie ever. I have a vivid feeling that Melville's films were huge influence on filmmakers like Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino. The latter with an even more prominent presence in his films. Knowing that, Melville's films have a contemporary freshness that their stories and vibe carry along.
Bob le flambeur easily fells into the recommended films category that can be appealing to the film buff but that can also appeal to a wider audience in the way that its storytelling, its qualities, and its value as a piece of entertainment is untouched.