Casque d’Or review – Jacques Becker’s gripping tragic drama of Parisian lowlife | Film

a This re-release marks the 70th anniversary of an accomplished French director known for his craftsmanship – but also deserving of his artistry. Jacques Becker’s Casque d’Or is a tragicomedy about Parisian lowlife set at the turn of the century, based on news stories and apocryphal tales of the “Apache” criminal gangs that roamed the Paris underworld in Belle’s era, terrifying and disturbing them. The streets of the rich who loved to live in the slums plunged into the seedy.

Simone Signoret is as glorious as Marie (nicknamed “Casque d’Or” for her golden helmet of hair); She is the woman of the night, based on “gigolettes” who seduce gentlemen in dark alleyways, who are then beaten and robbed by the woman’s partners who lurk behind her. Despite this, Mary never does anything this drastic here and she has a heart, as well as a hairdo of gold. Currently kept by Roland (William Sabatier), a cynical and insecure criminal, he commits a crime in a bar when Marie takes a liking to the guise of a quiet, elegant carpenter named Georges (Serge Reggiani), who goes straight after a while inside and isn’t looking for trouble. Marie and Georges fall deeply and tenderly in love, driven not only by the wrath of malevolent PETA Roland but his vicious gang boss, Leca (Claude Duffin), who uses his wine-making business as a front for respectability and a way to bribe the police and is also smitten with Marie. He has a plan to dethrone this low-ranking rival by convicting him of murder.

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Like Renoir and Ophüls, Becker has a knack for creating dense, energetic visual ensembles that are both realized and extravagant, involving drama. The scene follows the scene smoothly and the screen is flooded with detail and incident. Baker uses real locations that have the immediacy of New Wave films in Paris; Perhaps that was why Truffaut admired Baker so passionately. The tragedy is depicted with a kind of black comedy: a silly young waiter, an uncomfortable witness to Leca’s criminal affairs, is killed in a mysterious street accident, after which Leca organizes an official whip tour for the crying boy’s grandmother.

There is also a fine artifact when I love George and Mary, wandering the country streets in their post-coital bliss, tiptoeing into the church where a wedding is taking place, and Baker creating a comic tableau of the bourgeois guests in their cool and uncomfortable guise. Looking bride and groom. George himself seems confused and skeptical: does he feel that a wedding and a happy ending are not in his future?

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The Casque d’Or leads a brilliant cinematic coup: the ambiguous final sequence in which Marie appears to want to rent a certain room for some poignant reason. In earlier scenes Signoret usually gets a soft-focus close-up ethereally lit: but not now, in this bleak, pitilessly finale. This is an unmissable classic.

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Casque d’Or hits cinemas November 25.

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