Director: Claude Sautet
Writer: Claude Sautet, José Giovanni, Pascal Jardin
Based on a Novel by: José Giovanni
Starring: Lino Ventura, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Sandra Milo
Country: France & Italy
Running Time: 109 min
BBFC Certificate: PG
When you’ve been a bit of a film buff/lover for a long time, it’s rare that older titles can come out of nowhere and surprise you. There are of course thousands upon thousands of films out there for people to discover, but most of the classics which are still available to audiences have been so well discussed that you’ll often know what to expect from a film before you get around to watch it. When my friends at the BFI sent a press release over for Classe Tous Risques, I must admit I hadn’t heard of it though. Other than supporting actor Jean-Paul Belmondo, none of the names in the cast and crew jumped out at me either. I gave it a quick scan on IMDb and it sounded right up my alley so I took the plunge and luckily it resulted in that rare thing, a true ‘pleasant surprise’. Not that ‘pleasant’ is the right way to describe a hard boiled film noir like this.
Classe Tous Risques, which was based on a novel by actual jailbird José Giovanni (who also helped adapt it for the screen), tells the story of Abel Davis (Lino Ventura). Aided by his right-hand man Raymond (Stan Krol – a former cellmate of Giovanni), Abel pulls off a daring daylight robbery and attempts to flee to France. The perilous chase results in tragedy and Abel ends up stranded in Nice with his two young sons in tow. He asks his old gang for help in getting back to Paris and hiding him and his family, but gets snubbed. A friend of Raymond’s, Eric Stark (Jean-Paul Belmondo), shows up to take Abel to Paris though and the two become partners as Abel attempts to redress the balance and do best for his boys whilst evading the police.