Tag: gangster

Bob the Gambler, Bob le Flambeur (1956) – Film Review

bob gamblerDirected by Jean-Pierre Melville

Bob the Gambler was the first Melville movie I’d ever seen, and as most said it was an uncharacteristic piece for him, I was a little sad; I really liked the movie and wanted to dive into other Melville films that were just as quirky and sly as this one.

The film is about a man named Bob, and yes, he’s a gambler; he has a gaming slot machine in his closet, a little taste he indulges in at home for fun, and spends a lot of his time in gambling houses and casinos.

Bob has had one stint in prison and we find out that he’s got a bit of a guardian angel in the form of a cop. He gets picked up in a police car for a generous ride; one of the cops wants to make sure he stays out of trouble. He has them drop him off a couple blocks before his destination though, so as to not hurt his reputation.

Bob has a young apprentice, Paolo, a quasi son of sorts, but without any consent or censoring between them. He tries to keep Paolo out of trouble, or at least out of the hands of hotheads and their criminal schemes. The atmosphere and sense of place is a movie-lovers dream. The misty streets, long, narrow roads filled with high light-posts, and small little bars where people go in as fast as they pour out; ideal surroundings for a man who fancies himself a gangster.

Bob has started to run out of money as a result of his obsessive gambling, and when a friend tells him how much money a certain Casino holds in their safe, he instantly decides he wants to rob it. But he doesn’t act on sudden impulse like a lowly street hood, he tightly plans it out.

He hires distractions, men to hold-up the staff, and a professional safe-cracker; one of the more clever scenes involves the gang standing around the safe-cracker as he uses an amplifier to listen to the small clicks and movements of the combination lock, practicing for the future head-to-head with the real lock, the one that matters. He needs to softly listen for all the right internal whistling gizmos and clicks, while at the same time keeping in mind the need for it to be cracked under four minutes.

Bob      The plan and heist, of course, brings with it some very real obstacles. Earlier in the story, a young hothead, Marc, gets tangled around some trouble and the police subsequently offer him a deal: if he leads them to a bigger, top-of-the-top racket, and said tip results in a legitimately successful arrest, they’ll drop the charges against him.

Paulo, even after Bob tells him never to tell a dame their plans, goes off and brags about their upcoming plans. Then, when Paulo’s girl plays around with Marc behind his back, she tells him this, not thinking Paulo is going to go through with it, and, of course, Marc tips the police. One-by-one, the domino’s fall on top of Bob’s carefully articulated plans.

A heavy dose of irony presents itself towards the end, while Bob’s a bit distracted; his strict schedule for the heist is interrupted once he begins winning considerable sums at the tables, at the exact casino he’s about to attempt to steal eighty-million from. During the entire course of the film poor Bob has the worst of luck: It’s only good when his luck is just moments away from tipping back to the ‘bad’ spectrum.

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Logging Mob Movies #1: The Godfather

The Godfather, directed by early filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, is such a perfectly-executed and ambient cinematic experience; but not only does the form endow a sense of mystery and intrigue, but also the content: The story, of a family of Sicilian gangsters, is as poignant and gritty as any gangster film created. The dynamics of the family is like that of royalty; each son of Vito Corleone has their own problems, idiosyncrasies, regrets, and fears. Vito Corleone, played by a toned-down and wonderful Marlon Brando. Hot-headed and heir Sonny played by a young James Caan. Tom Hagen played by Robert Duvall. And Michael, the army-hero, played by a baby-faced Al Pacino.

The film begins with Vito’s daughters wedding, Connie, played by Talia Shire. Inside the shuttered-windows, behind the desk with a cat on his lap, Vito greets the tradition of wedding requests. Men who desire the help of Vito to punish the type who the police only give help to. Vito’s steam releases in his calm, reserved manor, when a man asks bluntly for his help, while rarely ever coming to see him for the simple sake of his friendship; obviously, the man is very daunted for just being in Vito’s presence, a mob lord, a violent commander, a Sicilian.

Vito Corleone has one stance in his business that is irrefutable: no drugs. He believes it will create illegitimacy and unwanted attention. It is suspected that Connie’s husband is in the drug business, as he works as a limited-worker for the Corleone’s, but Vito does not act: It is Sicilian rule that you do not interfere with a marriage. The drug-trade is the main cause for the familys failure: Sonny shows interest in drugs, which is displayed in a meeting where he makes an undesired outburst, thus causing the drug-lords to kill Vito in order to make Sonny the Godfather sooner. When Vito is hospitalized after being shot several times in the back, during a planned circumstance where Fredo is with him, who most find dull and unfit to defend against the assassination, Michael steps up to guard his father. He knows that the assassins will come for him and finish him; this shows the shimmer of courage and devotion that will lead Michael towards becoming The Godfather himself.

The cinematography is upheld with grace and congruity: the end-scene baptism is a highly memorable montage and comparison, and evokes the often under-toned nature of the mob: Their conscience is as good as the people they love perceive it to be. Francis Ford Coppola’s legendary film is the benchmark for all gangster films: through it’s widely acclaimed release and critical-praise, it will never be forgotten.