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Casque d'Or (Criterion Collection) (1952)

Cast: Simone Signoret, Serge Reggiani, Claude Dauphin, more...
Director: Jacques Becker
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Studio: Criterion
Genre: Drama, Foreign, France, Crime, Criterion Collection
Running Time: 98 min.
Languages: English, French
Subtitles: English
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The Paris demimonde of 1900 is the setting for Casque D'Or. Serge Reggiani, an honest woodworker, falls in love with Simone Signoret, the "moll" of minor crook William Sabatier. Gangster boss Claude Dauphin orders Reggiani and Sabatier to fight a duel to the death over the girl, as prescribed by the "code of the apache". Dauphin then pins the blame for Sabatier's death on Reggiani's boyhood chum Raymond Bussieres, knowing that the woodworker will nobly accept the blame; this will leave Signoret alone, which is what the lustful Dauphin has wanted all along. When Reggiani learns he's been set up as a dupe, he escapes from the police and kills Dauphin. Casque D'Or was based on the true-life Leca/Manda scandal, wherein an otherwise decent man was guillotined for shooting down a gangster boss in broad daylight. Since the scandal was common knowledge in France, the downbeat ending of this film was hardly unexpected, but still extremely moving. Completed in 1951, Casque D'Or was a failure on its first release, but then built up an excellent word-of-mouth reputation abroad. The film was released in the US in 1956 as Golden Marie. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Just ok . . . by WReynolds March 18, 2005 - 8:14 AM PST
The story is fanciful nonsense, like an operetta. But the real problem is Jacques Becker's inability to get the necessary performance from Signoret. The script is structured as a classic triangle, with Signoret as the apex. Both Reggiani and Dauphin are wonderful (though Reggiani is simply too short when dancing with Signoret, suggesting they are mismatched). Signoret, on the other hand, just doesn't have much chemistry with Reggiani. She's unable to find the key to this relationship. However, she and Dauphin are so good together I found myself reminding myself that Dauphin is the repellant side of this triangle. This is Becker's fault, though Signoret's age (she's ten years too old) and habitual coolness doesn't help here.

The Great Humanist by talltale February 5, 2005 - 3:13 PM PST
1 out of 2 members found this review helpful
CASQUE D'OR should help further revive the reputation of the wonderful French filmmaker Jacques Becker ("Le Trou," "Touchez pas au Grisbi"), a humanist of sublime talent and depth. This film also showcases the great Simone Signoret in her younger years, and what a strong, sexy, beautiful woman she was! Serge Regianni and Claude Dauphin are fine as the hero and villain; each brings charm and nuance to his role. But it's Becker's rich appreciation for people--and life lived moment to moment--that astounds. The violence, when it comes, is oddly shocking--considering how much and how often we see this today. Here, the director gives it its full due and allows us to see what that means--and brings. Once again, Criterion's release of another fine DVD (offering more of that unbeatable, original black-and-white cinematography) continues to set the industry standard.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.25)
44 Votes
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