Bob le flambeur

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Bob le flambeur
Bob le flambeur.jpg
Directed byJean-Pierre Melville
Screenplay byJean-Pierre Melville[1]
Produced by
CinematographyHenri Decaë[1]
Edited byMonique Bonnot[1]
Music by
  • Organisation Generale Cinematographique
  • La Cyme
  • Play Art[1]
Release date
  • 24 August 1956 (1956-08-24) (Paris)
Running time
102 minutes[2]

Bob le flambeur ("Bob the Gambler" or "Bob the High Roller") is a 1956 French gangster film directed by Jean-Pierre Melville. The film stars Roger Duchesne as Bob. It is often considered a film noir and precursor to the French New Wave because of its use of handheld camera and a single jump cut.[3]


Bob, a former bank robber and convict who has gone straight for 20 years, lives on his own as a gambler in the Montmartre district of Paris. He is well liked by the demi-monde community there, but has hit a run of bad luck and is nearly broke. Ever the gentleman, he lets an attractive young drifter called Anne stay in his flat in order to keep her from the attentions of Marc, a pimp he hates, and encourages his young protégé Paolo to become involved with her. Marc is arrested for beating up his wife, and accused of being a pimp, but is released on condition he becomes an informer. Ledru, the police inspector who does this, owes an unrepayable debt of gratitude to Bob, who once saved his life.

Through an ex-con who is now a croupier in the casino at Deauville, Bob and his safecracker friend Roger learn that by 5.00 in the morning at the height of the season the casino safe can hold 800 million in cash. Forming a plan to lift it, they find a backer to finance their preparations and recruit a team of professional criminals. The croupier gets them detailed floor plans, together with the specification of the safe. Paid in cash for this valuable information, he uses some of it to buy jewellery for his avaricious wife.

In bed with Anne, the immature Paolo brags about the upcoming raid, news which she passes on to Marc, who tips off Ledru that he has valuable info to share. When Anne confesses what she has done, Paolo shoots Marc dead before he can get to Ledru. Meanwhile, the croupier's wife has wormed out the secret of her husband's new riches and decides to blackmail Bob but, unable to find him, tells the police. Ledru finds it hard to believe, as he thinks Bob is truly reformed, and after checking with the casino mounts a fruitless search for Bob, who is already on his way to Deauville. Ledru follows with a convoy of armed police.

Bob's plan is to spend the time until 5:00 as a customer inside the casino, keeping an eye on things until the rest of the gang burst in with guns. After wandering around the tables for a while, he can't resist placing a bet. There follows the most incredible run of luck, in which he wins millions. Just before 5:00 he orders the staff to cash his huge pile of chips and bring the money to the front door. Arriving there on time, his gang are ambushed by the police and Paolo is killed in the ensuing gun battle. The handcuffed Bob is put into Ledru's car and the casino staff put his winnings in the trunk. It is strongly implied that his lucky streak will hold and he will get off with little or no jail time. Indeed, he quips, he may sue the police for damages – while the beautiful Anne waits for him at his apartment.

Principal cast[edit]


Bob le flambeur was shot on location in Paris and Deauville with two interiors at rue Jenner studio.[2] According to an interview the film cost 17.5 million French francs while CNC Censorship file indicates an estimate of 32 million French francs.[2]


Bob le flambeur was released in Paris on 24 April 1956.[2] The film was Melville's lowest grossing at this point in his career.[4] In Paris, the film took in 221,659 admissions and 716,920 admissions in France as a whole.[4]

Critical reception[edit]

Vincent Canby, writing for The New York Times in 1981, noted "Melville's affection for American gangster movies may have never been as engagingly and wittily demonstrated as in Bob le Flambeur, which was only the director's fourth film, made before he had access to the bigger budgets and the bigger stars (Jean-Paul Belmondo, Alain Delon) of his later pictures.[5]

The film received positive reviews when re-released by Rialto Pictures in U.S. cinemas in 2001. It holds an approval rating of 97% on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 30 reviews, with an average rating of 8.1/10. The website's critical consensus reads: "Majorly stylish, Bob le Flambeur is a cool homage to American gangster films and the presage to French New Wave mode of seeing."[6]

Roger Ebert added the film to his Great Movies list in 2003.[7]


Bob le flambeur influenced the two versions of the American film Ocean's Eleven (1960 and 2001) as well as Paul Thomas Anderson's Hard Eight, and was remade by Neil Jordan as The Good Thief in 2002.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Vincendeau 2003, p. 228.
  2. ^ a b c d Vincendeau 2003, p. 229.
  3. ^ Ebert, Roger (May 25, 2003). "Bob le Flambeur (1955) Review". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on January 25, 2009. Retrieved September 16, 2009.
  4. ^ a b Vincendeau 2003, p. 260.
  5. ^ Canby, Vincent (September 26, 1981). "Bob le Flambeur (1955) Movie Review". The New York Times. Retrieved September 16, 2009.
  6. ^ "Bob Le Flambeur (1955)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
  7. ^ "Bob Le Flambeur Movie Review". Roger Ebert. May 25, 2003.
  8. ^ "All 4 Homepage". Retrieved 2018-09-14.


External links[edit]