125, Rue Monmartre

Director: Gilles Grangier
Year: 1959
Rating: 7.0
Country: France

Enjoyable crime film that has shades of Chabrol and Hitchcock woven in - particularly Hitchcock's often used theme of an innocent man getting trapped in circumstances beyond his control. In this case it is simply by doing good deeds that a man finds himself looking at jail time. It never gets overly suspenseful but moves along nicely and has such an authentic French feel about it that I felt like chomping on some garlic and smoking a Gauloise.

Pascal is still selling newspapers in his late 30's and lives in one shoddy room in a seventh floor walk-up that should be condemned. But he is a happy guy with no responsibilities, a sometime bed mate (Dora Doll) and enough money to get by. And too good a heart. One afternoon down by the Seine a stranger (Robert Hirsch) jumps in to kill himself and Pascal saves him and then becomes his guardian angel. He lets him stay over as the man explains that his wife is trying to put him in an asylum. Pascal offers to help out. That turns out to be his undoing.

Pascal is played by one of my favorite European tough guys during this period - Lino Ventura. With a face that looks like a crumpled paper bag and a nose that has had its share of bad times, he played both good and bad guys with a in your face attitude that you don't forget. Before he got into acting - on the advice of Jean Gabin - he had been a professional wrestler. He brings that lumbering toughness to his acting, but as he shows here he can be tender as well.