Friday, December 18, 2015


Claude Mann is a low-paid bank worker, still living with his strict father, who is a little jealous of his colleague (Paul Guers) who manages to live the high life even though his is married and makes the same salary as Claude. Paul's secret, which he is happy to share with Claude, is gambling. With some recent winnings, Paul buys a car in which he gives Claude a spin, and he talks Claude into going to a casino with him. First time out, Claude wins big at the roulette table and catches the fever, though he is startled when he sees a lovely blonde woman being forcibly escorted from the casino for cheating. Claude decides, against his father’s wishes, to skip the upcoming family vacation and instead go the Riviera to gamble. While there, he meets the blonde (Jeanne Moreau) who he finds out is addicted to gambling, and the two set off on a multi-day roulette table spree in which their fortunes rise and fall spectacularly.

In terms of character and narrative, there's not a lot happening here. Aside from some lightly-sketched character traits, we don't find out much about these two people, and the plot amounts to boy meets girl, boy & girl gamble, boy wins—girl loses, girl wins—boy loses, they decide to leave then change their minds, etc. The ending is particularly disappointing [SPOILER: it's unrealistically happy]. But it's worth watching for the gorgeous black & white cinematography and the glimpses inside real French Riviera casinos. The director, Jacques Demy, later worked with composer Michel Legrand on the classic New Wave musical THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG, but Legrand's music for this movie just as effective; it's used sparingly but thrillingly. Moreau is fine, though Mann seems a bit out of his depth with her—she steals the spotlight in every scene she's in.  [DVD]

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