The Thief of Paris (1967) Poster

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To catch a thief
jotix10028 November 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Georges Randal, the rogue bandit that terrorized rich people in France, as well as in Belgium and England, was a man cheated from his own inheritance by an uncle that decided to concentrate in marrying Georges' own cousin, Charlotte, giving her a dowry that would guarantee her a good marriage. Georges began a spree of thefts that made him one of the most sought after bandits of the time.

One thing that distinguished Randal was the ruthlessness in which he attacked the treasured objects of its owners. Georges loved Charlotte, but it their union was not going to happen because the uncle Urbain, saw to it Georges did not have a chance. Georges allied himself to a catholic priest who knew where to strike, passing himself for a saintly man of the cloth. They fooled everybody with their wit and resoluteness.

Based on the novel by George Darien, Louis Malle and his collaborator Jean-Claude Carriere took the task to bring the novel to the screen, adapting it to fit the style for which the director was famous for. They opened the action, although the only fault is that it would have made a better picture if it would have been trimmed a bit because there are things that are repeated that should have been eliminated.

In Jean-Paul Belmondo they found the ideal actor to carry the film. The actor, at the heart of his popularity, did what he could with his Randal, although there are times when he is bogged down by the screenplay. Genevieve Bujold, makes a ravishing creature to look, although she is only briefly at the beginning and at the end. Julien Giomar makes a valuable contribution as the Abbe La Margelle, the rogue priest behind some of the capers performed by Randal. Marie Dubois, Christian Lude, Francoise Fabian, the wonderful Marlene Jobert, add luster to the supporting cast. Bernadette Lafont, an excellent actress appears only briefly in the film.
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Entertaining, exciting, sexy, fun and intellectually stimulating. Highly recommended.
max von meyerling31 July 2005
A pendant piece to VIVA MARIA. Louis Malle certainly, unlike some other fifties hipsters but also along with some other fifties hipsters, knew that something was happening in the sixties but didn't quite know what it was. It was, of course, sex, drugs and rock 'n roll - thousands of people in the street- the whole anti-establishment thing. Malle knew this and he didn't know this. He knew this instinctively but not specifically. In LE VOLEUR he presents a story of a young man, who, upon completing his education and military service, is cheated out of his inheritance and thwarted in love by the greed of the older generation disguising its self interest in pious social formalities. He almost accidentally discovers his talent for burglary and decides that it is his life's calling. This is a trope familiar to French existentialism especially in the films of Bresson and Melville.

Belmondo, as the young man, Georges Randal, decides that he is going to attack the smug bourgeoisie one villa at a time. His sex life was what could be described as extremely contemporary. He lives on the boarders of respectable society. A life on the edge if you will. He shares his values with all sorts of nefarious characters in a sort of underground movement. While some have plans to turn the movement into something like a concrete political organization Belmondo prefers to keep it on a personal and individual level. The chief mover behind the politicizing of the movement is shot down after a political speech made by a reactionary politician. Even after achieving an enviable financial security Belmondo continues with his chosen profession, dedicated to the implication that it continues his never ending war against a hypocritical and selfish bourgeois society. A very sixties concept except that LE VOLEUR is a period picture, set in La Belle Epoch, the decades before the turn of the last century.

VIVA MARIA is also a period picture but more overtly about revolution. Malle certainly had a feeling for the zeitgeist but was, as something of a bourgeois himself, distancing himself from identifying too fully with revolutionary politics as say someone like Regis Debray, a man of Malle's class who fought with Che Guevara in Bolivia.

Certainly as all of the aspects of the cultural revolution of the late sixties came into sharper focus Malle, like the Belmondo character, avoided direct participation or indeed comment upon either the situation or any organized dissidence, preferring to make his statement by going within. His subsequent films included documentaries on India and fiction films dealing with incest in Vichy (LE Soufflé AU COEUR) and a collaborationist youth during the war (LACOMBE LUCIAN). He was to abandon France ten years after LE VOLEUR and made films in America before returning once again, ten years after, to France and a film about the ethics and morality of wartime collaboration (AU REVOIR LES ENFANTS) and, more pointedly, May '68 (MILOU EN MAI). But from VIVA MARIA and LE VOULEUR it was a long time in between laughs.

LE VOLEUR is commendable, above all else, for it's single minded purpose, reflected in the dedication to his vocation by Belmondo. No crappy cinematic tricks. Guys who want to retire do so even after one last job, men who walk into the frame do not turn out to be undercover anythings, coincidences and ironies do not abound at the touch of a screenwriters whim or sloth. The sequence with Charles Denner, who is superb, is a highlight of the film. Geneviève Bujold has never looked more beautiful than in this film. If LE VOLEUR has one fault, it is that there are too many beautiful women in the film, a fault more revealing about the way times and standards have changed, than about Mr. Malle.

LE VOLEUR, along with VIVA MARIA are perfect examples of what the Nouvelle Vague matured into, sort of its middle age, a strong combination of spirit, skill and generous budgets. A rare film to catch but entertaining, exciting, sexy, fun and intellectually stimulating. Highly recommended.
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A sadly overlooked Masterpiece.
Spamlet18 March 2003
Just saw this forgotten gem by Louis Malle today on Starz. I absolutely loved it. I admit I have a huge bias towards movies about thieves: the artistry of their trade fascinates me (and explains why I can't get enough of playing "Thief" the computer game series).

Nevertheless, this was an engrossing turn of the century period piece which is filled with brilliant, subtle characterizations of extremely interesting and complex characters. It's exciting without needing to be fast paced and it doesn't sacrifice depth of emotion (which is repressed but fully present under the surface as these characters must constantly re-evaluate their involvement in their chosen lifestyles).

The film is beautifully structured so that by the end of it we, who have been voyeuristically caught up in the romance of suave criminals, must, like them, take stock of what has been lost.
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Jean Paul Belmondo is terrific as a shrewd burglar and well accompanied by several gorgeous French actresses
ma-cortes8 May 2019
In Paris circa 1900, rakish Georges Randal (Jean Paul Belmondo) is brought up by his rich and egoistic uncle , who robs his inheritance . Georges hopes to marry his cousin Charlotte (Geneviève Bujold) , but his uncle manages himself for her to marry a wealthy neighbour. As an act of vengeance, Georges steals the family jewels. Subsequently , he becomes an expert thief , enjoying the experience so much that he join forces with another swindler , a cunning priest : abbé Félix La Margelle (Julien Guiomar) . He unites other fellow thieves and all of them robbing the bourgeois people and making off with their women . While he meets and falls in love for a great number of beautiful girls : Geneviève Bujold ,Marie Dubois , Françoise Fabian , Marlène Jobert , Bernadette Lafont . The light touch of the masters! Malle makes ... Belmondo takes.

This was a decent and brilliant Louis Malle film, but neither extraordinary , nor notable , but an acceptable and passable picture . Set in the turn of the century , being a very well designed period piece which is filled with subtle characterizations , intrigue , drama , action , and brief bits of humor and irony . These elements are efficiently and compellingly blended by Luis Malle , a director during the¨Nouvelle Vague, New Wave" of 1950s and 1960s , though technically not considered a Nouvelle Vague auteur . Including a splendid protagonist , Belmondo , who along the way gets flirty with a great deal of wonderful and popular French actresses . Cast is frankly well as Jean Paul Belmondo who gives a sympathetic and enjoyable acting , as usual , as a spoiled young who embarks upon a life-time of burglary . Belmondo was at the peak of his international fame , by the time he played his best titles as Pierrot le Fou , Weekend at Dunkirk , Tender Scoundrel , Chinese Adventures in China , Oh ¡ , Backfire, Mississippi Mermaid , among others . Support cast is pretty good , such as : Marie Dubois , Françoise Fabian , Bernadette Lafont , Marlene Jobert and brief appeaarances and cameos from Charles Denner , Anne Vernon , Jean-Luc Bideau and Louis Malle himself as a figurant .

The film displays an engrossing and adequate cinematography by prestigious camera operator Henry Decae . As well as an evocative and atmospheric musical score .The motion picture was professionally directed by Louis Malle , but in fits and starts . Malle is considered to be one of the best French filmmakers . His résumé showed that he had worked as an assistant to filmmaker Robert Bresson when Malle was hired by underwater explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau to be a photographer on the Calypso. Cousteau soon promoted him to be co-director of "The Silent World"(1956) . Years later, Cousteau called Malle the best underwater cameraman he ever had . His first film was the intriguing story ¨Lift to the Scaffold¨(58) . Malle's second film, ¨Les amants ¨or "The Lovers"(1958) , starring Jeanne Moreau broke taboos against on screen eroticism. In 1968 the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the obscenity conviction of an Ohio theater that had exhibited "Les Amants." He also made films on the other side of the Atlantic, starting with Pretty Baby (1978), the film that made Brooke Shields an international superstar. The actress who played a supporting role in that film was given a starring role in Malle's next American film, Atlantic City (1980) , that promising actress was Susan Sarandon. In one of his later French films, Au revoir les enfants (1987), Malle was able to find catharsis for an experience that had haunted him since the German occupation of France in World War II. At age 12, he was sent to a Catholic boarding school near Paris that was a refuge for several Jewish students, one of them was Malle's rival for academic honors and his friend . After that , he made ¨Milou en mai¨and ¨Damage¨ with two international actors Jeremy Irons and Juliette Binoche .In his final film, Vania in 42 Street (1994), Malle again penetrated the veil between life and art as theater people rehearse Anton Chekhov's "Uncle Vanya." In that film, Malle worked again with theater director Andre Gregory and actor-playwright Wallace Shawn . Malle was married to Candice Bergen, and he succumbed to lymphoma in 1995. Rating : 6/10 . Well worth seeing .
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At least there's Genevieve Bujold...
bob99813 April 2011
... and those gorgeous eyes to look at. The film would be a lot better if it were 30 minutes shorter, and if Malle didn't lovingly photograph those rich interiors, that gorgeous furniture that Belmondo treats so brutally with his burglar tools. Jacques Saulnier did the production design, and this is a really handsome film to watch. It is a precursor to Stavisky..., the Resnais film that Belmondo starred in some years later, another Saulnier production. The solitary nature of the crimes Randal commits does not allow the idea of a confederation of criminals against the bourgeoisie to develop--this is one of the themes of the script that fails to work.

The acting is always good. Guiomar as the crooked priest is always effective; you may remember him longer than you do Belmondo. Paul Le Person as a thief has some good scenes, as does Jacques Debary as the politician Randal robs while he's making a speech. The best scene for me was the Guiomar-Marie Dubois encounter, when she recounts a bogus story to the feigned surprise of the priest.

Louis Malle was one of the greatest French directors, along with Resnais and Chabrol, yet he didn't always make the films that his talent should have let him do. Le Voleur is just too ripe, too pretty, too focused on surfaces to work for me.
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Surprisingly dull comedy
senortuffy15 June 2003
I finally got around to watching a tape of this movie I'd made awhile back, and frankly, I was very disappointed. Jean-Paul Belmondo at the peak of his international fame, Louis Malle ("Atlantic City") directing - how could it go wrong? But regardless, this is just a simple comedy without much depth.

Belmondo plays a French thief around the turn of the century, and the joke is that he and his fellow thieves are robbing the bourgeois and making off with their women. No new ground is broken, and to be honest, even with this simple plot, it isn't particularly well-executed.

Even fans of Belmondo might be bored with this film - instead of his usual droll demeanor, he's dull and just floats from one scene to another without making much of an impact.

So-so entertainment, that's all.
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Malle's nihilistic getaway
lasttimeisaw13 February 2015
Warning: Spoilers
THE THIEF OF Paris certainly is not Louis Malle's most illustrious work, pales in comparison with classics like ELEVATOR TO THE GALLOWS (1958, 8/10), THE FIRE WITHIN (1963, 9/10), LACOMBE, LUCIEN (1974, 8/10), or even his Hollywood legacies as Atlantic CITY (1980, 7/10) and VANYA ON 42ND STREET (1994, 7/10), but it might be his brightest and the most nihilistic.

In Malle's film, burglary is not a disgrace profession at all, and Georges Randal (Belmond) is a very promising one, with his bourgeois upbringing and extraordinary composure. His first go is an act of revenge to sabotage his cousin Charlotte's (Bujold) arranged marriage organized by his rapacious uncle Urbain (Lude), who raises him up but also appropriates properties of George's deceased parents. So he has to leave, accidentally joined by two habitual thieves, the priest Félix (Guiomar) and Roger-La-Honte (Le Person). Together, Georges marches on successfully and gets flirty with several women, Broussaille (Jobert), Roger's brothel-running sister in London; Ida (Fabian), one of her girls; Renée (Sarcey), the wife of his college mate Mouratet (Crouzet) and Genevière (Dubois), an unhappily married wife, who also wants to rob her husband blind.

Most of the time, the film embraces a nonchalant casualness in the supposedly highly- surreptitious activities, minutely showing viewers the details of breaking-in a villa, prising open a safe box or using caustic acid, meanwhile bourgeois class again is under the lash of Malle's wielding, the ultimate shame is Urbain on his death bed, he has to watch Georges feasibly falsify his will and Charlotte utter that she has no sympathy to him at all.

Career hazard matters, particular for thieves, but Georges is the kind (one we are all too familiar with) that cannot stop even he patently comprehends the aftermath, because it is the danger is beckoning them to act, to induce the thrill and fulfillment his life needs, so in the final act, Malle mischievously lures us into a paranoiac game reflected from George's mind, then calmly ends the film, an anticlimax fits this generally unexciting adventure.

There are nothing too thrilling for the cast to do either, Belmondo might not be the romantic type, but as rakish as he could be, Guiomar liberates some deadpan seriousness of juggling his holy vocation with mundane misdeeds. Belles are all over the maps (Bujold, Sarcey, Dubois, Fabian, even Lafont in her small part as a very French maid), but never arouse too much frisson in their auxiliary functions, really a pity.
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rich crooks versus vengeful thieves
myriamlenys11 January 2019
Warning: Spoilers
As a child, Georges loses both his parents and ends up in the care of his uncle. His lonely adolescence isn't much fun, but he consoles himself by thinking of two bright prospects : upon reaching majority he will inherit his father's fortune and he will marry his cousin, a winsome little creature with the tiniest of waists. Upon reaching adulthood Georges discovers that his uncle has stolen his inheritance AND promised the lovely cousin to another, richer suitor...

A colourful and vivid movie, "Le voleur" is part psychological drama and part social satire. The story is set in a Belle Epoque France which, according to writer and director, is a dystopia : the country is ruled by a minority of rich bourgeois while the workers and farmers (aka the lower element) are supposed to doff their caps, toil and die of exhaustion in tasteful silence. Ever vigilant, the rich and powerful try to avert the threat of a revolution by pointing at scapegoats such as the Jews, the Freemasons or the Smurfs. They also cloak themselves in false respectability, for instance by insisting on their charity and piety.

Whether the Belle Epoque was really that dire is a matter to be discussed by professional historians. However, the movie's vision is both plausible and eerily, uncannily familiar. Even nowadays, many viewers living in the Western world will recognize the sort of "charity event" practiced by the happy few, to wit a glittering party where guests in designer clothes and diamonds mingle with power brokers, celebrities and gold diggers. And yes, somewhere in a corner of a room there stands a nun or a priest (well-washed, well-spoken and well-used to this kind of event) who nods and murmurs a prayer every time someone drops a ten-dollar bill into a basket... Or think of all those social media items, where a politician richer than God bakes pancakes for the homeless - in the strictest of intimacy, of course, since Humility Is All.

So "Le voleur" is pretty good at analyzing - and skewering - this kind of injustice and inequality. Sadly its strength is also its weakness, in the sense that it keeps hammering on the same nail. As a viewer, you get a wide array of rich crooks ; you also get a bunch of professional criminals such as burglars, con men and fences, many of whom chose their profession as a revolt against the egotism and moral decay of the elite. And that's it : you don't get much in the way of inoffensive people living normal lives. It's one crime or one vice after another. After a while this becomes.. dare I say it.. well, predictable.

Now that I've started saying negative things about the movie, I might just as well add that I found the ending underwhelming. It was as if the movie were working towards some kind of emotional climax or narrative conclusion which never arrived.

None of this means that "Le voleur" is bad. Watch it for the high production values, the opulent period detail, the satirical bite and the fine lead performance by Belmondo. Or simply watch it for the costumes, which, especially in the case of the prosperous women, are ravishing examples of charm, style and seduction.
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