Jean Gabin is at his most wearily romantic as aging gangster Max le Menteur in the Jacques Becker gem Touchez pas au grisbi (Hands Off the Loot!). Having pulled off the heist of a lifetime, Max looks forward to spending his remaining days relaxing with his beautiful young girlfriend. But when Riton (René Dary), Max’s hapless partner and best friend, lets word of the loot slip to loose-lipped, two-timing Josy (Jeanne Moreau), Max is reluctantly drawn back into the underworld. A touchstone of the gangster-film genre, Touchez pas au grisbi is also pure Becker—understated, elegant, evocative. —The Criterion Collection
His interest in films was stimulated by a meeting with King Vidor, who offered him employment in the US as actor and assistant director. However, he remained in France and became assistant to Jean Renoir, a friend of the family, during that director’s peak period (1932-39). In 1934 he ventured briefly into independent production, co-directing with Pierre Prévert a short film, Le commissaire est bon enfant, le gendarme est sans pitié (1935). In 1935 he turned out a five-reeler, Tête de turc (1935), which he later refused to acknowledge as his.
In 1939 he began shooting a feature film, L’or du Cristobal (1940), but walked out after three weeks, leaving the film to be finished by Jean Stelli. In 1942, after a year in a German prisoner-of-war camp, he began his career as director. His entire output consisted of only 13 films, but they include some of the most artistically and technically substantial in French cinema. He is one of the few Old Guard directors done honor by the New… read more
Comparison's between Grisbi and Bob Le flambeur are bound to arise, but I would say Bob Le flambeur would stay ahead of this game due to the significant reason that it s made up of the signature noir elements of betrayal, the amateur gangster, golden era of jazz, and of course the predecessor to all heist movies with an ending ahead of it's genre. But grisbi cannot be undermined and hasn't aged yet.
Becker's elegant crime movie, an influence on the later work of Melville, stars French superstar Jean Gabin as an ageing, world weary gangster hoping to retire after one last big heist but drawn into conflict when his loose-tongued friend and partner spills the beans to his young lover. The pace is thoughtful and slow but leads to an explosive climax on a dark and lonely road complete with bombs and machine guns.....
Grisbi means loot in French and this film is about gangsters, cigarettes and big American cars. It's listed as a thriller, but the slow pace would not put it in that genre by today's standards. Some parts scandalous parts in this, film like a woman sniffing coke. In a 1954 film! That kind of stuff was forbidden in the US till at least late seventies.
A look at some of the best original French posters for the films in Film Forum’s current series: The French Old Wave.
Many people in american cinema point to ‘The Treasure of the Sierra Madre’ when it comes to films which expose the grotesque side of greed. I would propose that ‘Touchez pas au Grisbi’ is a the perfect… read review
Classic Jacques Becker gangster saga, bridging the gap between “Pepe le Moko” and “Bob le Flambeur”, with a never better Jean Gabin as an aging old time thief whose final score is supposed to set him… read review