Touchez pas au grisbi (1954)

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Released 2-Dec-2009

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Crime Main Menu Audio
Audio Commentary
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1954
Running Time 92:06 (Case: 94)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Jacques Becker
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Jean Gabin
René Dary
Dora Doll
Vittorio Sanipoli
Marilyn Buferd
Gaby Basset
Paul Barge
Alain Bouvette
Daniel Cauchy
Denise Clair
Angelo Dessy
Lucilla Solivani
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music Jean Wiener


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English Alternate Subtitles
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

Madman are releasing a string of classic French films on their Director's Suite series. This is another: Touchez pas au Grisbi or Hands off the Loot! from 1954. This film was also known as Honour Among Thieves as well as quite a few other names. This is a crime thriller with a twist, focused on the friendship of two ageing gangsters, Max (Jean Gabin) and Riton (Rene Dary), rather than on the plot and action. This doesn't mean there isn't plot or action, just that the relationship between the men is the focus. Max & Riton have been friends working together for more than 20 years but it is obvious that Max is the brains of the duo. They have recently pulled off a massive gold heist and have hidden the proceeds, waiting until things cool down to sell the ingots. Unfortunately other gangsters in their circle, led by Angelo, have worked out who pulled off the heist and are trying to find out where the loot is hidden. Max must outwit Angelo and his cronies while trying to keep Riton out of trouble. They enlist the help of local crime boss, Pierrot. Max & Riton are also involved with two young exotic dancers, Josy (a young Jeanne Moreau) and Lola (Dora Doll). Riton is struggling to keep his relationship with Josy in perspective whereas Max knows exactly how important Lola is to him.

As I mentioned above, the film is really about the power of friendship and the problems brought about by ageing, especially in the underworld. It is a fascinating portrait of a very interesting character who is a long way from being an angel but still has standards and honour when it comes to his friends. The story is told with the absolute minimum of exposition which, rather than leading to confusion, enhances the viewing experience and keeps the film grounded and real. The bookend scenes at the start and end of the film in the same restaurant are an excellent device. The film was directed by Jacques Becker, a well-known and regularly awarded director of the era. Gabin, who is excellent as Max, won the Volpi Cup at Venice in 1954 for his performance in this film (and another from the same year). This film was something of a comeback for him after a string of less successful films.

Any fan of crime thrillers or film noir of the era, especially French, should definitely seek out this excellent film.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is very good for the age of the film. This edition looks very similar to the Criterion release based on screen shots I have seen.

    The feature is presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and is obviously not 16x9 enhanced. This is the original aspect ratio.

    The picture was very clear and sharp throughout for a film of this age. Shadow detail was very good.

    The black & white looks really good with very good contrast and definition in the shots.

    From an artefacts perspective, there is some white spots but they are irregular although one passage around 38:00 has a few more. They are never distracting. There were also some very minor MPEG compression artefacts such as at 11:30.

    There are subtitles in English which can be either yellow or white based on user preference. They are clear and easy to read but a little smaller than I would like.

    The layer change was not noticeable during playback.
    

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio is very good for a film of this vintage.

    This DVD contains a French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtrack encoded at 224Kb/s.

    Dialogue seemed clear and easy to understand. There was an occasional crackle.

    The music by Jean Wiener is quite sparse after the piano and orchestra introduction. A distinctive and plaintive harmonica accompanies some scenes.

    The surround speakers were not used.

    The subwoofer was not used.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    

Menu

    The menu includes an intro and music. The DVD cover includes an essay about the film on the inside.

Commentary - Dr Adrian Martin - Senior Research Fellow, Monash University

    A regular commentator on Director's Suite releases from Madman produces another excellent and interesting commentary for this film. It is great to see a local distributor going the extra yard and producing their own extras rather than just importing them. Dr Martin's laconic Australian drawl discusses the director's craft in filmmaking, the usage of underworld slang, art direction, the themes, characters and the lack of exposition. Well worth a listen.

Theatrical Trailer (3:51)

    An interesting trailer which is in much worse condition than the film.

Other Madman Trailers

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    There are two main other releases of this film that I can find (although there was an earlier French edition); the Region 1 Criterion Edition and a Region 2 French edition. They all seem to be roughly equivalent in terms of video quality so it comes down to extras. The Region 2 does include English subtitles on the feature but I cannot confirm whether they extend to the extras. The Criterion includes the following extras, all of which are quite short:

The Region 2 edition includes

This really is a tough call; it comes down to whether an interesting commentary is of more value to you than interviews with people directly involved in the film. I'm going to call it a draw.

Summary

    An excellent crime thriller from France.

    The video quality is very good for a film of this age and seemingly the equal of anything available globally.

    The audio is very good.

    An audio commentary by an Australian academic is included.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Monday, February 15, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-NS708H upscaling to 1080p, using HDMI output
DisplayLG Scarlet 42LG61YD 106cm Full HD LCD. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Sony SAW2500M Subwoofer

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