Henry Pasquier, the spoiled son of a wealthy doctor, discovers high-octane thrills, jazz-era romance and a sense of purpose in life when he unwittingly falls into the company of an organized ring of car thieves—and falls for Jeannette, who works as car-bait for the gang.
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Mr. Wilder would of course go on to make some seriously polished Hollywood movies; white glimmering elephants. But here! Lo and behold! Some honest-to-goodness termite art! In fact, as for the ragged stuff of the Nouvelle Vague - the stuff pried roughly from on location, the playful jokes and antic formal business - we find a true predecessor here. This thing is out in the streets, wildly unkempt, on a spirited lark.
Billy WIlder's debut feature, co-directed by Alexander Esway, is a fairly rousing tale of Paris car thieves in the 30's and one corrupted man brought into their circle only to be kept there by his friendship with a young man and his somewhat vivacious sister.
Was Godard thinking of this movie when he had Michel drive a stolen car from Marseilles to Paris in Á bout de souffle? Was Blier thinking about the weak axle when he put Depardieu and his buddy in the green Peugeot in Les Valseuses?
Though this is before he became the great director that everyone know today, it is still possible to see some genuine Wilder touches in Bad Seed. The same biting truth and style of character shine through. The dialogue is not at the level that he ultimately reached and it feels a little lost in translation. But the things that are noticed in the film could only ever be noticed and delivered by Billy Wilder.
Light and enjoyable for a sick-day Friday afternoon. Really reminded me of French New Wave cinema, which is amazing because this film comes thirty years before. Leave it to Wilder to be far ahead of his times.