Je taime Classse Tous Risques! This film deserves the distinction of being considered one of the greatest fugitive films of any era. It has everything one looks for in a gangster film: Carjacking, pistol whippings, blatant chauvinism, Betrayal, and the occasional man getting thrown out of a moving boat. While certain aspects remain cliché, the plot of the film is unique. The story is the tale of an international fugitive who is trying to balance a family life and his ties to his friends in the underworld.
Director Claude Sautet examines the concept of loyalty heavily throughout this film. He examines the loyalty based on age, relationship, and situation. The main character, Abel Davos (played by Lino Ventura), is an aging gangster with a decreasing number of options of where he can run and who he can trust. In the opening scenes he shows strong loyalty to his partner in crime Naldi when things hit the fan. Later in the film, Davos calls on some old friends for help, but instead they send young gun Eric Stark (played by Jean-Paul Belmondo) to his rescue. Davos does not take it lightly that his old friends do not come to meet him personally. It is shown that these friends have now invested their loyalty in women or their new places in society.
While this film can be brutal, it beautifully juxtaposes a career criminal’s routine with his will to be the best Father he can be. The same hands that can kill a man are the same hands that his two young boys fall asleep in at night. Furthermore, this film is shot beautifully and is a beautiful timepiece of 1960’s Europe.
Although this film is great, I can not consider it perfect. There are times where the editing can be a little rushed. One scene in particular is when Star is having dinner with his new flame lilliane (played by Sandra Milo). During this scene the two are talking about how every knows their personal past and how it does no good in talking about it then Stark says “so…” and the scene cuts drastically to them in Starks house where Liliane says “so…” as if she is finishing the thought. I can see how a “so” can tie the two scenes together in the screenplay, but this comes off as rushed in the actual film. Another aspect of the film that could be improved is character development of the old friends Davos called on in his is moments of despair. Although they mentioned how close they were at one point, it would have helped to see this loyalty at some point in the film.
In all, this film is one that I recommend to all Gangster film lovers. This beautiful film is one that will stay in a viewers mind long after watching the film.