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aka - Don't Touch The Loot
France 1954
Directed by
Jacques Becker
94 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Touchez Pas Au Grisbi

Jacques Becker's gangster film has a uniquely French charm imbuing its hard-boiled genre plot.

Jean Gabin plays Max, an aging professional thief who is trying to keep the loot from what he intended to be his last job out of the hands of  younger, less honourable rivals. He has made the fatal error for a career crook - sentimentality - in the form of his partner, Riton (René Dary), who compromises his plans, forcing him to choose what is more important to him - the money or his old friend. 

Gabin, who was only in his late forties when he made this film, is marvellous as the world-weary, spiffily-attired ladies' man and the story is exemplary film noir material but with a distinctively European  sensibility.  Becker spends as much time on a scene in which Max plays host to his hapless partner, feeding him and putting him to bed than he does to the confrontation between the two gangs at the film's end which is rather rudimentarily executed by modern standards whilst a scene in which Max slaps around a couple of molls (one being a 25 year old Jeanne Moreau) and a hotel clerk is near risible as is a truly naff nightclub floor-show.

But the ratio of Hollywood values is inverted here with Becker's interest being not in tommy guns and tin-pot machismo but rather a study in character and a fatalistic worldview, a duality which would be given gold standard from with Coppola's Godfather films.




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