It's hard not to be jealous of the French. They don't have the same constraints the American gangster films do. They can deal with mature themes and don't have to be morally righteous in the end. American films of this era are about simple black and white morality. The French treat you like an adult, where there's a lot more grey.
I love Melville's oeuvre, but Bob Le Flambeur didn't quite hit the mark. The director's classic tropes are all present; minimal dialogue, muted suspense, cool crooks with strong morals, but the film struggles to match its elements. Bar the moody nocturnal glow, the first half of the film meanders round the block in jumpy edits. It's not until the latter half that the heist plot picks up pace & Bob grabs our interest.
Took a long time for this film to catch my attention, and it never did for long. Bob didn't speak to me much as a protagonist, and gambling isn't entirely my cup of tea either. I appreciate the film though. It has a lovely soundtack and consistent, "free" style, which I can imagine was progressive for its time. Loved the lawn used for heist practice by the way. All in all this was no more than enjoyable to me though.
Early on, in its beginning, there's a foreshadowing of what this film aims. A self-expository and demiurgic use of a narrator's voice over panoramic images of a city by night: a self-conscious narrative version of classicism, by bringing together characters-type and situations-cliché in order to mutate them into a diffuse nonchalant narrativity, casually relaxed with its own device. Cinematography by Henri Decaë.
Bob The Gambler is derived from American film noir, but Melville infuses the genre with French themes and social norms. The film utilizes a number of small camera capabilities, like weird angles and quick, swish pans. The film also features an early example of a "lost girl," the French variation on the femme fatale.
It's certainly interesting to see a "gangster" film with such an interesting main character: ex-con, lonely, off-and-on broke. This diversion of the gangster representation we usually associate with this drama gives the film its interesting suspense, particularly surrounding his relationship with Anne, who represents a quite unusual "femme fatale." The gender dynamics present here make this Melville worth watching.
See sources of Cosmo Vitelli, Marty S., and many others. I love the artist who loves films or novels so much that he insists he joins and becomes part of that world - like Herzog, JC, QT. In regards to writing the mystery/thriller: the only mystery is the intentions of others; the only Thriller is the acting on one's own forecast of the future. Endless possibilities w/ these two elements for those interested.
It's been a while since I've seen this film. Most of it is fairly straightforward and even breezy at times. You can feel the spirit of the Nouvelle Vague vaguely surrounding the film, especially in some of the camera work and editing. Bob is a very charming character. The ending is my favorite type of ending. It's known as the "Greatest Heist Film Ever Made", a title that only truly makes sense once you've seen it.
A very well made heist film which focuses mostly on the planning of the heist and very little on the execution. The exploration of Bob the Gambler's character and how he relates to the criminals, dames, and cops in his life is fascinating and proceeds with careful slow development.