Bob le Flambeur

Happy Easter, to those who celebrate! My family does, but not in a religious way. We get together for a huge, delicious brunch, and relaxing together We also celebrated my cousin Jess' 21st birthday, since she was home from college. It was a lot of fun, and I didn't really feel like coming home and settling down to something serious.  

The art for this movie looks so much more interesting than how I felt the actual movie was. Blah, had it been a different day, I might have been in more of a mood for a slow, moody film, but today, I really wasn't. I wanted something a bit distracting, maybe fun or dramatic, where this was all image and surl. So, today's movie was Bob le Flambeur (Bob the Gambler or High Roller), directed by Jean-Pierre Melville in 1955. To be honest, I think I just wanted to watch the Hawks game like a doofus. I'd still rather be doing that. I think this is just a movie that I need to re-visit on another day, in a different mood, you know?

The movie is about Bob, a pretty shockingly cool gangster who is almost broke. He decides to concoct a plan to rob a casino. I really liked Bob, with his white, slicked back hair and constant smoking. I think I just wasn't in the mindset to watch a slower sort of movie. Does that ever happen to you? I hope so, haha! I really liked some aspects of it, and I know that I tend to like moody films like this, but I just wasn't feeling it today.

After reading Ebert's essay, I have a quite a bit of appreciation for the film. He writes, "Jean-Pierre Melville's "Bob le Flambeur" (1955) has a good claim to be the first film of the French New Wave. Daniel Cauchy, who stars in it as Paolo, Bob's callow young friend, remembered that Melville would shoot scenes on location using a handheld camera on a delivery bike, "which Godard did in 'Breathless,' but this was years before Godard." Melville worked on poverty row, and told his actors there was no money to pay them, but that they would have to stand by to shoot on a moment's notice. "Right now I have money for three or four days," he told Cauchy, "and after that we'll shoot when we can" (Great Movies II, 72-74).

This is some interesting stuff, here. There are a lot of French New Wave movies that I have really enjoyed, and I am thankful that Melville was an inspiration to those directors. Thinking about it, I really can see where a lot of those directors found inspiration in a film like this.  I also liked the little tidbit about Breathless, since I have to watch that tomorrow. I have to like Bob le Flambeur for what it started. I just think I need to have a day where I'm not sit down and watch it. I want to give the film a fair evaluation, which I don't know that I was able to do today.

I feel bad that this is so short, but it's just how I feel today.  I really appreciated the film, and I liked parts of it, but I didn't love it today. I like many films that are similar to this - very slow, personal, moody sort of films, but I just wasn't in the mood for it today. I was full of food and energy, and I wanted to be loud and rowdy instead of calm and contemplative. I'm definitely going to have to revisit this film in the near future. It's streaming on Netflix, so it's easy to watch again. Let me know if you decide to check it out!

Have any of you seen Bob le Flambeur? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Ebert's Great Movie Essay on Bob le Flambeur


The Blue Kite