"Bob Le Flambeur," Jean-Pierre Melville's 1956 underworld romp revives here unscreened, but it's said to be gangbusters.
Sheila Benson of the Los Angeles Times said that: "Melville called his film, set in the postwar underworld and a clear precursor of the New Wave, 'a love letter to a Paris which no longer exists.' "
In her favorable review, she said it was "beautiful in its design, in which black and white contrasts appear everywhere." She does knock the subtitles, which, as Bob gazes in the mirror, translate his mumbled French for "A good looker" as "A fine hoodlum face."
Vincent Canby of The New York Times writes: "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. . .
"It's a seemingly deadpan narrative about an incredibly cool, no longer young Paris gambler, Bob Montagne (Roger Duchesne), a reformed bank robber who slouches around Pigalle . . . making and losing pots of money in backroom card games, being kind to hookers and unkind only to pimps."
It is a funny, jaunty movie, adds Canby: "Its realism is not the reality of life, but of the kind of movies that give shape to the disordered lives of the people who watch movies."
BOB LE FLAMBEAU -- At the K-B Janus.