Arlecchino Cinema > 09:00


Claude Sautet


Friday 30/06/2023


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

Here, prior to the major works of Mel- ville, is the true beginning of the modern European crime film. This vision was the creation of director Claude Sautet, pro- foundly related to his later studies of the middle class, and of writer/director José Giovanni, whose contribution to two other masterpieces (Le Trou, Le deux- ième souffle) was equally formidable. All of Sautet’s greatness is present in his first film. It starts as a family saga and soon deepens into a study of loss and the emotionally unbearable realities that con- stitute the price of crime. The faces of Lino Ventura and Jean-Paul Belmondo light up the screen and remind us what a fabu- lous director of actors Sautet already was. Abel Davos wants to return with his family to France. From Milan, he sends his wife and young sons to the border. They wait anxiously for Abel to show up. When he finally appears, she runs to meet him in a warm embrace: “Abel, I was at the end of my tether.”
Travel money is missing and Abel “knows only one way to earn it”. He and a friend carry out a brutal robbery. Fol- lowing the police shootout, the image of Abel bent over Thérèse is hardly discern- ible in the dark – quick and tragic. The scene of police investigators spread out on the beach is back in reportage mode.
Davos is reduced to being a single fa- ther of the boys whom he cannot even meet. Mornings flash by and turn into night in an all-encompassing border zone. Everything emotive is eliminated in a “Hemingway” approach. We get the bare minimum. A scene conveyed in almost blitz-like images gains emo- tional grandeur. The characters are like nomads by the sea in images that remind us of Fellini and perhaps particularly La strada.
In this moment, Davos winds up to build from hopeless fragments, happiness and a future for his children, a life from which he himself will be excluded. He shapes up, prepared to act his part in the playbook of his way of life, a story of certain self-destruction in a world of betrayal and loyalty tests. In it, he will take measure of himself.

Peter von Bagh, from Rikoksen hehku [The Heat of Crime], Otava, Helsinki 1997. Edited by Antti Alanen

Cast and Credits

og.: dal romanzo omonimo (1958) di José Giovanni. Scen.: José Giovanni, Claude Sautet, Pascal Jardin. F.: Ghislain Cloquet. M.: Albert Jurgenson. Scgf.: Rino Mondellini. Mus.: Georges Delerue. Int.: Lino Ventura (Abel Davos), Sandra Milo (Liliana), Jean-Paul Belmondo (Erik Stark), Marcel Dalio (Arthur Gibelin), Jacques Dacqmine (commissario Blot), Claude Cerval (Raoul Fargier), Michel Ardan (Henri Vintran/Riton), Simone France (Thérèse Davos), Michèle Méritz (Sophie Fargier), Evelyne Ker (figlia di Gibelin). Prod.: Robert Amon, Jean Darvey per Zebra Film, Films Odéon, Filmsonor, Mondex Films. DCP. D.: 110’. Bn.