A Man Called Rocca (1961)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 23-Sep-2009

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Crime None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1961
Running Time 102:01
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Jean Becker
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Jean-Paul Belmondo
Christine Kaufmann
Pierre Vaneck
Béatrice Altariba
Henri Virlojeux
Mario David
Nico
Pedro Serano
Charles Moulin
Jean-Pierre Darras
Edmond Beauchamp
Jacques Léonard
Case Amaray-Transparent-Dual
RPI ? Music Claude Normand


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

     Retired criminal Roberto La Rocca (Jean-Paul Belmondo) is told that his hot headed friend Xavier Abe (Pierre Vaneck) has been framed for murder by his partner Villanova (Nico) and is awaiting trial. Rocca returns to the city where he seduces Villanova’s girl Maud (Beatrice Altariba), shoots and kills Villanova and takes over the gambling club previously run by Xavier and Villanova. He also renews his acquaintance with Xavier’s beautiful sister Genevieve (Christine Kaufmann). Meanwhile, Xavier is found guilty and sentenced to 10 years in prison. When standover thugs threaten the gambling club, Rocca shoots them and is sentenced to prison. In prison Rocca and Xavier meet up, suffer solitary and volunteer to clear land mines. Xavier loses an arm in an explosion, they receive remission because of their mine clearing, are released and settle down in a farm with Genevieve. But Xavier has an idea, which leads to tragedy.

     A Man Called Rocca is directed by Jean Becker (whose first film this was) based on the novel L’excommunie by Jose Giovanni. As a movie it has way too much plot, and in fact it feels like three separate stories cobbled together unevenly; the revenge plot, the prison experience and the final section after their release. Characters appear prominently, then disappear completely, and new characters are thrown into the picture without preliminaries or presaging even as late as the 90 minute mark, characters whose function is only to push the narrative in another direction. I have not read the book, but I would expect that these characters in a novel would have better introductions and motivations. Author Giovanni was unhappy with this screen adaption of his novel and ten years after this film, in 1972, Giovanni himself directed the movie La Scoumoune based on his own book, again staring Belmondo. La Scoumoune is available in the three disc set French Screen Icons: Jean-Paul Belmondo 2 from Madman, and will be reviewed on this site later this month.

     Jean-Paul Belmondo is a genuine screen icon, an actor who appeared in over 80 films in a career that stretched between 1956 and 2008. No matter the film or genre, he was the epitome of “cool”, the nearest equivalent in English language films probably being Steve McQueen. In A Man Called Rocca he looks very young, is handsome, cheeky, charismatic and lights up the screen. His scenes with the mine clearance team are quite tense and well-staged. Pierre Vaneck as Xavier also does well, but no-one else really gets enough screen time to stand out.

     A Man Called Rocca , despite the plot challenges mentioned above, has moments of interest and Belmondo is always worth watching.

     A Man Called Rocca is included in the three disc set French Screen Icons: Jean-Paul Belmondo 1 from Madman that also includes Moderato Cantabile (1960) and Weekend At Dunkirk (1964).

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

     A Man Called Rocca is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.66:1, which I believe is the original theatrical ratio, and is 16x9 enhanced.

     This is a reasonable black and white print. In the early out door shots the film lacks sharpness and has copious grain but the later indoor and set sequences are sharp and detailed. Later, in the outdoor mine sequences, the film is again softer. Blacks and shadow detail are acceptable. There is the occasional scratch and odd dirt mark, some aliasing and infrequent ghosting (see 101:27 for example) but nothing too distracting. For a 50 year old film it was quite good.

     English subtitles are in a yellow font. I noticed no obvious spelling or grammatical errors, although their timing with the French dialogue seemed slightly slow. There were also a couple of dialogue scenes in Spanish. When they occurred, burned in white subtitles translated the Spanish into French and the yellow English subtitles were overlayed.

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

Audio

     Audio is a French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono at 224 Kbps. Dialogue is clear, the effects such as gunshots were quite dull. In contrast, vehicle engines were quite good. There was obviously no surround or subwoofer use. While nothing special, the audio does the job.

     The music by Claude Normand was accordion based and does sound dated.

     Lip synchronisation was good.

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

Extras

     None

R4 vs R1

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

     I cannot at this time find another English friendly release of the film. A Region 2 French release does not seem to have English subtitles.

     I also cannot find an equivalent Belmondo collection listed on sales sites. The only thing close is a Region 2 UK collection that includes Breathless, Pierrot Le Fou, Le Professional, Stavisky and A Double Tour.

Summary

     A Man Called Rocca feels like three separate stories cobbled together unevenly. Characters appear prominently, then disappear completely and new characters are thrown into the picture without preliminaries whose function is only to push the narrative in another direction. Still, the film has moments of interest and Belmondo is always worth watching. .

     The DVD has adequate video and audio. There are no extras but the film is presented in a box set with two other films, which is great value for fans of Belmondo or French cinema.

     A Man Called Rocca is included in the three disc set French Screen Icons: Jean-Paul Belmondo 1 from Madman that also includes Moderato Cantabile (1960) and Weekend At Dunkirk (1964).

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Thursday, January 12, 2012
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE