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Jacques Becker (France, 1906), assistente di Renoir dal 1931
al 1939, dimostrò un interesse tardivo per la regia. A parte un tentativo abortito, il suo primo film
fu Dernier Atout/ The Trump Card (1942), spaccato "Renoiriano" fino al midollo sulla malavita.
Con Goupi Mains-Rouges/ It Happened at the Inn (1943), dal romanzo di Pierre Very, cominciò a schizzare il vasto
quadro sociale che
avrebbe continuato fino alla morte, secondo una visione dell'arte che affonda più nella tradizione
Brechtiana che nel magistero renoiriano;
un artificio poliziesco (la ricerca di un assassino) si presta a
esplorare l'ambiente di un villaggio contadino, peraltro condensato in gran parte all'interno della
Becker porta a galla gli intrighi degli abitanti senza scalfire la reale
essenza della loro vita quotidiana, imponendo un modello di realismo così accurato da soppiantare
tutti i precedenti cinematografici francesi.
Dedicato Falbalas/ Paris Frills (1945) all'ambiente dell'alta
Antoine et Antoiniette (1947) al mondo di commesse e operai di un
quartiere popolare, una commedia ambientata in una mansarda abitata da una giovane coppia che vince
alla lotteria, influenzata dal neorealism Italiano,
Rendez-vous de Juillet/ Meeting of July (1949) ai giovani esistenzialisti di Saint Germain (in
piena crisi postbellica),
Edouard et Caroline (1951) all'alta società,
coronò la sua "comedie humaine" con Casque d'or (1952), ambientato nella
provincia francese fin-de-siècle.
In questo melodramma su un "amour fou" giunge a maturazione il
processo di inquinare la trama linda e puerile con una molteplicità di
dettagli che alla fin fine costituiscono la vera struttura portante dell'opera; la trama riveste cioè
un'importanza secondaria rispetto al quadro d'ambiente (sempre minuzioso e rigoroso) nonchè ai
risvolti psicologici della vita collettiva.
Four boats full of merry people land at a restaurant by a river and the merry
young people run through the place.
One of them is the blond Marie (Simone Signoret).
At the same place a young man, Georges/Jo, is recognized by his friend
Raymond notices that Jo is watching Marie dance, and that she watches back to him,
so Raymond introduces Jo to the company, and mentions that he and Jo spent five
years in prison together and that they haven't seen each other in several years.
Jo is now working as a carpenter. Marie immediately asks Jo to dance with her,
thereby upsetting her boyfriend, local thug Roland.
Roland insults Jo and Jo responds by punching him in the face.
Then Jo calmly leaves because he has to go back to work.
Marie is fascinated.
The following day Raymond briefly visits Jo at the shop where he works and sleeps, then heads for Felix's place: this Felix is the local boss and has sent his goons, including Raymond, to look for Marie. Two of his goons,
Billy and Ponsard, find Marie hiding in a hotel, and drag her to Felix.
Felix is supposed to scold her for humiliating Roland, who is a member of the
gang, but instead Felix offers Marie money to buy her away from Roland.
After she leaves, Felix calls the gang into the room, opens his safe and
distributes the money from the latest robbery.
He notices that some money is missing. He guesses who took the missing money,
Fredo, and slaps him in the face after finding the money hidden in his hat.
Marie visits Jo at the carpenter shop and passionately kisses him outside the shop,
but the vicious daughter of the shopowner is jealous and calls her "whore".
In the evening elegant couples visit the local dive where the workingman and
workinggirls dance. Felix's gang stares amused at them.
Roland invites one of the ladies to dance just when Marie walks in with her friend Julie.
Marie is indifferent. But when Jo walks in and approaches Marie, Roland confronts him and challenges him to a duel outside.
Raymond tries to stop Jo but Jo accepts.
Felix, who is standing by Marie, has his first glimpse of Jo.
The whole gang walks outside to watch the duel.
Felix watches while they fight with a knife.
Jo kills Roland.
Felix is impressed and offers Jo to join the gang.
Jo refuses but Felix implies that, if he refuses, they will inform the police about the murder.
Marie walks outside, sees the dead body, walks back inside, grabs her friend Julie and leaves the dive before the cops arrive.
The cops find the dead body and begin investigating.
Jo walks back to the shop, collects his stuff and leaves.
His employer is nice and gives him extra money.
Raymond sends him a message to meet him outside the town.
Instead Jo finds Marie.
They hide together in a simple farm.
Felix sends Fredo to find them. Raymond senses that Felix wants to harm Jo in order to get Marie and tries in vain to dissuade him.
Felix meets with a corrupt inspector at the usual bistro and tells him that Raymond is the killer.
Marie and Jo are living happily in the village and one day stop by the church to watch a wedding ceremony.
Outside they meet Felix who tells Jo that Jo's best friend Raymond has been arrested for the murder: clearly, Felix has framed Raymond to force Jo to surrender to the police, hoping that this will get him Marie.
When Marie wakes up the following morning, Jo is gone.
Marie, desperate, returns to town and begs Felix to help Jo.
Felix demands that she has sex with him (not shown but it looks like she does).
Meanwhile, Jo signs a confession at the police station and Raymond sees him
taken to jail. Raymond is not released by charged with the lesser crime of
being an accomplice. However, Raymond also learns that Felix is the one who
Meanwhile, Marie realizes she has been fooled by Felix, who has no intention
of helping Jo.
Jo and Raymond are being transported to another prison. Raymond tells Jo that
Felix himself is the "rat" who turned him in and that it was a trick to have
Jo surrender. (It is never explained by Felix couldn't just turn in Jo himself).
Marie takes a coach and follows their carriage.
When the carriage arrives at the prison, Jo and Raymond jumps out and escape
while she stops the cops. They jump on her coach and flee.
However, Raymond is mortally wounded by one shot.
A revengeful Jo looks for Felix and finds Marie's slippers in his bedroom, a sign that she slept with him. Now he has a second reason to kill Felix, because he also forced Marie to sleep with him.
Raymond dies. Jo looks for Felix in the streets of the town and finds him.
Felix runs to the police station for protection.
Jo walks in and grabs one of the guns hanging from the wall (that easy!)
and then coldly executes Felix.
Raymond is sentenced to die by the guillotine.
Marie rents a room in a hotel overlooking the prison and watches the execution
while remembering her first dance with him.
The plot is not always plausible. These are naive gangsters.
Il film è dominato dalla progressiva degradazione sociale del
falegname, che finisce per diventare un delinquente come gli altri suo malgrado, e dalla femme fatale,
contesa fra il proprio ruolo e un amore sincero; ma forse il senso ultimo del film sta nella fotografia d'ambiente
di emarginati "morali", che credono in valori perduti e sopravvivono a un mondo in via
Questo tema è ripreso in Touchez Pas au Grisbi (1954), un noir
disperato tratto dal romanzo di Albert Simonin.
Il protagonista e` un gangster che sta invecchiando e vuole smettere.
È ancora un tradimento imprevisto, una violazione del codice
d'onore, a condannare il protagonista, che rimane vecchio e solo, sperduto in un mondo cui non
appartiene più, che non capisce più, un mondo che non rispetta neppure l'ideale, per lui sacro, dell'amicizia.
All'amicizia lui sacrifica (invano) l'oro che gli avrebbe garantito una vecchiaia rilassata.
The middle-aged gangster Max (Jean Gabin), who behaves like a gentleman, is having dinner with his friend Riton and two women.
They want him to join them for a show, but he is not excited.
He reads in the newspaper about a massive robbery of gold
A young man, Marco, walks in and Max invites him to join them.
Max pays his debt at the restaurant.
The five drive to a nightclub that belongs to Pierrot.
where the two girls work as dancers.
Angelo is the drug dealer of the nightclub.
Pierrot doesn't like Angelo's chaffeur to deal drugs and Max proposes that
they hire Marco.
We learn that Max and Riton have been partners in crime for 20 years.
Max accidentally finds Angelo kissing
Riton's girlfriend Josy (Jeanne Moreau) and Josy tells Max that she wants
to break up with Riton and asks Max to make Riton understand that it's over.
Max doesn't tell Riton that Josy is cheating on him but tells him that he looks
like an old fool dating the young Josy.
Max, tired, leaves the club, and Riton follows him.
Max's taxi is followed by an ambulance, which is actually a disguise for Ramon's car. Max realizes it and scares Angelo away with a gun.
He then walks to a bar to phone Riton, who is having a meeting with Angelo,
and warns him to kick Angelo out.
Riton picks up Max and Max takes him to a secret hideout.
In the garage Max shows Riton a new car: in the trunk Max has hidden the stolen
gold: they are the thieves of the gold.
Max then tells Riton that he found Josy and Angelo together and Riton admits
that he told Josy of the robbery. Angelo, tipped by Josy, obviously wanted to
kidnap them and torture them to get the gold. Max scolds Riton for being so
naive with Josy. We learn that this was meant to be their last job. Max is tired
of their criminal life and wants to retire.
The following day Max takes the gold to his uncle Oscar who will exchange it into cash,
but it will take time. We also see that Max and the uncle's secretary are old lovers.
Meanwhile, Riton has disappeared. Max calls Josy but it's a minute too late:
Angelo has just kidnapped Riton in an ambulance and Josy has escaped.
Max is angry. We hear his thoughts: Riton is a fool and Max regrets partnering
a wealthy English woman, who is in love with him invites him to lunch and they make love in her luxury apartment.
Then Max feels guilty of having abandoned his old friend Riton, leaves the woman's place, picks up Marco warning him that they are on a dangerous mission, and
drive to Josy's. Max gets out and Marco sees
one of Angelo's goons follow Max. Max learns from Josy that Angelo has kidnapped Riton and that she barely escaped.
Marco captures Angelo's goon, who has just phoned Angelo about Max being there.
Max and Marco take the goon to Pierrot's place and Pierrot, who dislikes Angelo,
is happy to help them interrogate the goon.
Angelo calls demanding the gold in exchange for Riton.
Max calls his old uncle Oscar, who is in bed with the young secretary, and tells him that he needs the gold back, but at the same time asks Pierrot for guns.
Max, Marco, and Pierrot drive to the meeting place.
Angelo's gang arrives in two cars, but one hides in the bushes and prepares
dynamite sticks. The exchange is uneventful, and Riton is freed.
But then Angelo's second car drives by, throwing dynamite sticks at Max's car.
Max, Pierrot and Riton have time to jump and wait for the goons to come back.
Marco is killed in the car's explosion. Max kills Angelo's goons and the trio
takes the goons' car and drive towards Angelo's car, which is waiting for the goons.
Max drives while Riton and Pierrot shoot at Angelo's car that is not expecting an attack. When Angelo's car starts to drive away, they shoot the tires and the car crashes, overturns and catches fire. Angelo jumps out alive but is killed by Pierrot. Riton is wounded.
The trio drives away leaving the gold in the burning car.
The following day Max takes Betty to lunch. The newspapers are talking about
the recovery of the gold in the car of famous gangster Angelo.
Max calls Pierrothome to have news of Riton and learns that Riton has died:
the gold lost and Riton dead anyway.
Back to the table, Max has to smile at Betty who knows nothing of his criminal life.
Rue de l'Estrapade (1953) e` una screwball comedy.
Dopo un paio di film commerciali,
Alì Babà et les Quarante Voleurs (1954) con Fernandel
e Les Adventures de Arsène Lupin (1957) ,
elegante rievocazione della Belle Epoque fra ladri gentiluomini e seducenti avventuriere, e una
rievocazione calligrafica del mondo degli artisti di Montparnasse in
Montparnasse 19/ The Lovers of Montparnasse (1958), in teoria una biopic di
Géràrd Philippe nella sua parte ideale, Becker diresse il suo ultimo film,
Le Trou/ The Hole (1960).
E` la storia di un tentativo di evasione preparato da cinque detenuti compagni di cella:
uno ha commesso un omicidio durante una rissa, un altro
è un ladruncolo, un terzo è un incallito avanzo di galera, un quarto è un ex-
partigiano sbandato e l'ultimo è un giovane di buona famiglia che ha ucciso involontariamente la
moglie che tradiva; insieme decidono di scavare un cunicolo e si mettono diligentemente al lavoro; dopo
giorni e notti di duro lavoro riescono a sbucare nelle fogne, ma uno di loro confessa tutto al direttore del
carcere e proprio quando la libertà sembra a portata di mano i guardiani fanno irruzione nella
I temi dell'amicizia e del tradimento soppiantano decisamente il
quadro d'ambiente; Becker amplifica a dismisura l'ossessione di una società aliena e ostile
rappresentandola con un carcere, un'architettura arcigna e fredda, un nido d'ombre e una cassa di
risonanza per rumori metallici; il disperato tentativo di perforare il guscio che li tiene prigionieri
è innanzitutto un patetico desiderio di ritrovare i valori perduti, il contrasto fra quel mondo ideale,
definitivamente sepolto in un'utopia di passato, e il mondo reale, che si può identificare con una
forma del destino, è reso proprio dall'antitesi fra solidarietà fraterna e delazione. Il
montaggio, curato da Jean Luc Godard poichè Becker era morto prima di poterlo fare, mette in
risalto il senso angoscioso del fluire del tempo, che si accorda con modi del
"noveau roman". Ma il
film sta con La Grande Illusion di Renoir e Un Codamnè à Mort s19est
Echappè di Bresson tra i grandi canti di libertà dell'esistenzialismo francese.
Becker è in effetti la personalità di raccordo fra il cinema di
Renoir e quello di Godard, fra il realismo poetico ormai obsoleto e il realismo documentario della
nouvelle vague; fu uno dei pochi che contribuirono in quegli anni al rinnovamento linguistico del