Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Bob le Flambeur (1956, Fr.)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Bob le Flambeur (1956, Fr.) (aka Bob the Gambler)

In director Jean-Pierre Melville's gangster-caper/heist crime drama co-scripted by Auguste le Breton (known for the jewelry-heist film Rififi (1955)) - it was a great character study with post-noirish characteristics and themes similar to many other American caper films; some claimed that it was the first French New Wave film due to some of its aspects (including on-location shooting, jump cuts, hand-held camera work, monochromatic shading and natural lighting); the film had a strong influence on other films and directors, including Paul Thomas Anderson's Hard Eight (1996), Neil Jordan's English-language remake The Good Thief (2002), and the two Ocean's Eleven (1960 and 2001) films:

  • the film's opening for the "strange tale" was in the year 1955 at day-break at The Basilica of Sacre-Coeur (a Roman Catholic church) where a tram moved from the summit of the bohemian section of Montmartre (in Paris, France) down the steep, sloping street to Place Pigalle; the film's narrator - Jean-Pierre Melville, described Montmartre as "both heaven and hell"
  • the title character, who had been playing craps all night in a gambling den in the district of Pigalle (specializing in the sex trade), was unlucky, almost-broke, high-rolling, genteel, slick-backed white-haired, fedora-wearing, aging gangster named Bob Montagné (Roger Duchesne) - known popularly as compulsive 'Bob the Gambler' - ("An old young man, legend of a recent past"); Bob (a "good-looking crook") appeared quite dignified, gentlemanly and well-dressed in a dark suit with tie, covered by a light-colored trenchcoat; his usual daily routine was to sleep during the day and gamble at night until 6 am
  • on his way home in the early morning, he was offered a chauffeured ride by an unlikely friend - local police inspector Commissioner Lieut. Ledru (Guy Decomble), to a backroom at Carpeaux's Restaurant for more card-game gambling (where he lost "two hundred clams"); Ledru mentioned how Bob was an "old pal" who had earlier helped save his life and had then reformed himself in his old age ("age has wised him up"); Bob was an ex-con who had served time 20 years earlier for the Rimbaud Bank robbery, but had now "quieted...down"
  • before arriving home mid-morning at his Montmartre penthouse studio apartment after a full night of gambling, Bob spoke briefly to his handsome young punk protege Paolo (Daniel Cauchy) - a wannabe gangster, and the Pile ou Face (Heads or Tails) corner-bar-restaurant manager/owner Yvonne (Simone Paris); in the past, Bob had lent Yvonne the money to open the establishment; also, Paolo was the son of Bob's bank robbery partner from years earlier
  • when Mr. Bob arrived home, he slept briefly before being awakened to speak to "no-good," un-reformed, ex-con pimp Marc (Gerard Buhr) who asked for a "hundred clams" to skip town after beating his 'girlfriend' Lydia and sending her to the hospital; Bob refused to help Marc: "I like to help guys in big trouble, but not your kind...I don't like pimps"
  • at the corner bar, Bob became acquainted with young, coquettish and flirtatious streetwalker-nymphet Anne (Isabelle Corey), and scolded her about associating with and being victimized by Marc: "You're out late for your age...You'll end up a pavement princess"; Paolo was immediately entranced by Anne and let her know his sexual intentions
  • Marc was hauled into Lieut. Ledru's office and threatened with being charged and arrested for beating and pimping-procurement, but was offered leniency and free after he agreed to become an informer for Ledru who demanded: "Give me a lead. A good one!...I want something big"
  • Bob picked up his 1955, two-toned Plymouth convertible coupe at a garage, and happened to drive past Anne walking on the street after she spent the night in a hotel; he picked her up and drove her back to his swanky apartment; he decided to befriend and platonically protect Anne by inviting her to stay with him; he told her: "You've got a home"; she noticed he had a gambling compulsion due to his possession of a functioning slot machine in a closet ("You that fixed on gambling?"); she asked if he ever won and he answered: "Never"
Bob Driving in His 1955 Plymouth Belvedere Convertible Coupe with Anne
  • afterwards, they went for a drive through town, as he showed the teenager the house where he was born before he left his separated mother at age 14 "to conquer the world"; ten years later, he returned and was embarrassed to find his mother scrubbing floors on all fours; he anonymously and generously sent her money orders until he received notice that she had died; his recounting of his past was to impress Anne with how he had become opulent by making it on his own
Bob's Drive to His Birth-Home with Anne
  • after leaving Les Naturistes cabaret with Anne, Paolo took her back to Bob's apartment, where he tried the slot machine before watching her undress from a side-view - before having sex with her (off-screen)
  • after entering Le Balto restaurant near the P.M.U. office (aka Pari Mutuel Urbain, the French state-controlled betting system), Bob returned home to find Paolo in bed with Anne, both naked and sleeping together; Bob changed his clothes without disturbing them and drove to the race-track at Longchamps (Open Fields) for a day of betting on the horses with his professional safecracker-expert friend Roger (André Garet); Bob daringly bet all of his recent gambling wins of 700 clams on 'Prince of Orange' - and cashed in on some winnings

Bob Betting On Horses at the Race Track

Bob's Ex-Con Friend Roger
  • as Bob noted: "I'm on a roll. I can’t stop now!...Fortune favors the bold," he and Roger drove to the Deauville Casino; while Bob was gambling, Roger happened to meet one of their ex-con gang members, Jean de Lisieu (Claude Cerval), who worked there as a casino-croupier; Jean explained how it was highly likely that on the last night of the Grand Prix, at 5:00 am, the casino's safe would be holding 800 million francs
  • when Roger and Bob met up later, Bob admitted he had lost big in the casino - and was a "sucker" for gambling: "Yeah, I’m cleaned out. Big deal...True, I've screwed up all my life"; but since the night was still young, Bob planned to bet his remaining 200 francs at Carpeaux's
  • once Roger explained what Jean had told him about the casino's usual big haul during the Grand Prix, Bob decided to attempt one last score - an audacious plan to rob the Deauville casino safe: ("The job of a can be done if it's planned right"); he brought together his disparate group of friends to plan the heist-caper, including retired Scottish money-man backer-financier McKimmie (Howard Vernon), safe-cracker Roger, Paolo, and Jean, and others; Bob and Roger received inside help from Jean, who provided detailed floor-plans of the casino's layout and the number and make of the safe
  • meanwhile, Jean's avaricious and suspicious new wife Suzanne (Colette Fleury) began to suspect that Jean was in some sort of nefarious deal; also, Anne had acquired a bar-girl nightclub job, followed by a promotion to cigarette-flower girl and then to "hostess"

(l to r): Bob, Paolo, Roger, and Financier McKimmie

Jean's Avaricious Wife Suzanne (Colette Fleury)

Anne Learning from Paolo About the Heist
  • the plan to rob the casino started to go awry when Paolo foolishly bragged about the idea to Anne while she was naked in bed; he feared losing her to richer men at the Jour et Nuit (Day and Night) nightclub where she worked, and believed that he could regain her favor by telling her about the heist that would mean millions for them: ("What if I rob the Deauville Casino safe on Grand Prix day? Just for you")
  • safecracker Roger practiced on a duplicate safe to reduce the time to crack open the intricate lock mechanism within two minutes; he used a stethoscope to listen to the lock's tumblers
  • when the team of criminals were assembled together, Bob told them: "We operate like a commando unit!"; the logistics of moving through the casino were demonstrated by Bob with a small schematic drawing, and then with a giant, full-scale chalk outline of the casino on an open grassy field in an industrial area, and thirdly in the casino itself (in a fantasy sequence devoid of customers or workers); Roger also improved his technique of safecracking using an oscilloscope and a speaker while McKimmie's German Shepherd dog responded attentively to his activity
  • later, Marc met up with Anne in the nightclub, whisked her away, and suggested providing her with better clientele as her pimp; she hinted cooly that Paolo had a bigger financial windfall coming of 100 million - more than he could ever offer her: ("He wants to cover me in gold....What he'll take in Deauville....He told me he's going to rob the casino safe. Just like that"); Marc planned to relay the tip to police commissioner Lieut. Ledru; shortly later after sex, Anne realized that she had possibly put Bob in danger, and tried to warn him: ("I want to show you what a good girl I am. I told Marc...what Paulo told me about the Deauville safe. I thought he was just sounding off"); Bob slapped her hard across the face for being 'gabby' with the detested Marc, but then afterwards left his apartment key with Yvonne if Anne needed a place to stay
  • there was considerable suspense regarding whether Marc would be able to reveal the heist's plan to Lieut. Ledru; the scheduled caper was also derailed when Jean's wife Suzanne figured out the plan from her husband; she suggested blackmail for up to 10 million to get a cut, and then urged him to apply pressure by sabotaging the operation
  • Paolo was reprimanded by Roger and Bob for being a "jerk" and " the sack" to Anne, who then went ahead and told Marc ("I told you, never spill to a dame...What you said in the sack, she repeated, in the sack!"); miffed and jealous, Paolo sought out Marc (who had just dialed Lieut. Ledru on a pay phone) and lethally shot him in the back before he divulged any information
  • Lieut. Ledru, who suspected that Bob was back "in harness" and plotting something, met with him in a Chinese restaurant and explained his concerns: "To keep you from doing anything stupid...I hope you're not planning..."; Bob vowed that he would remain clean: "Don't worry about me. I've been legit for 20 years"; at the end of their short conversation, Bob learned from Ledru that Marc had been murdered
  • and then, Suzanne by phone anonymously informed on Bob to Ledru, who then ordered police cars to drive to Deauville; the planned heist proceeded as originally planned, as Ledru was vainly trying to locate Bob in all his usual haunts, to divert him and persuade him to abandon the caper; the narrator noted: "Now Bob is about to play his final hand and Fate will have its way"
  • in the film's ironic and anti-climactic conclusion, before the safecracking attempt by the gang at 5:00 am, Bob couldn't resist entering the Deauville Casino as a customer at 1:30 am to non-chalantly bet at roulette and a card-game known as chemin de fer; remarkably, Bob's tremendous winning streak netted him millions of francs; the narrator observed: "Lady Luck, his old mistress, made him forget why he was there"

Bob's Winning Streak in the Casino

Paolo Shot Dead at Casino

Paolo Cradled in Bob's Arms

Roger and Bob Arrested

Bob's Cash Winnings Loaded into Trunk of Police Car

Final Words About Bob's Fate
  • while Bob was cashing in his chips inside the casino at about 5:00 am, the police converged outside and confronted Bob's team of criminals; a brief shoot-out left Paolo dead before the heist even took place; Bob cradled Paolo in his arms
  • both Bob and Roger were arrested by Commissioner Ledru, who spitefully told him: "So, asshole. Happy now? You won"; all of Bob's piles of winning cash were loaded into the trunk of a police squad car, as Bob worriedly ordered: "Make sure no cop swipes any of that"
  • inside the car, Ledru stated that Bob might only be incarcerated for a brief time: ("Criminal intent and attempt will get you five years. But with a good lawyer, you could knock it down to three"); Bob had masterminded the heist, but he hadn't robbed the casino or done anything illegal; Roger commented: "With an even better lawyer and no criminal intent, you could get an acquittal"; Bob joked in the film's final line that he might even be able to sue the police for damages: "And with a really top lawyer, I might sue for damages"

First View of Bob Looking at Himself Reflected in the Glass of a Shop Window: "A real hood's face"

Bob Montagne (Roger Duchesne)

Bob's Unlikely "Old Pal" Commissioner Lt. Ledru (Guy Decomble)

Pimp Marc (Gerard Buhr)

Paolo (Daniel Cauchy)

Yvonne (Simone Paris)

Nymphet Anne (16 year-old Isabelle Corey)

Bob's Slot Machine in a Closet

One of Bob's Late-Night Gambling Card Games

Paolo With Anne As She Undressed, and Later in Bed Together

Deauville Casino Croupier Jean Visieu (Claude Cerval)

Bob Admitting to Roger That He Had Lost Big at the Casino

Bob: "800 Goddamn Million. The Job of a Lifetime!"

Roger Practicing Cracking a Duplicate Safe

Bob Explaining the Heist With a Schematic Drawing

Chalk Schematic of Deauville Casino Layout on Open Field

Marc Learning of the Heist Plan from Anne

Anne Slapped and Reprimanded by Bob For Gabbing with Paolo and Marc

Marc Shot Dead in the Back by Jealous Paolo While on Phone to Ledru

Suzanne Anonymously Informing on Bob to Ledru


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