Classe tous risques
The greatest of all French gangster movies.John Patterson, The Guardian
Lino Ventura, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Sandra Milo, Marcel Dalio,
Classe tous risques is a favorite of directors from Bertrand Tavernier, who declared it “one of the best French gangster films,” to John Woo, who called it “powerful and timeless”; with this digital restoration, the rest of us can appreciate what we’ve been missing. The story by José Giovanni (Le trou, Second Breath) tracks the fate of French gangster Lino Ventura, sentenced to death in absentia for an unexplained crime. A daylight heist on a crowded Milan street triggers a breathless, brilliantly constructed flight to the French border. Desperate to reach Paris, with two young sons in tow, Ventura gets a lift from gawky, good-natured mug Jean-Paul Belmondo, but arriving, he finds he has nowhere to go. The location cinematography by Ghislain Cloquet grows darker and more formal as the plot moves north; while aspects of the film’s style recall Italian neorealism, its conclusion points toward the existential chill of Jean-Pierre Melville.