Overlooked & Underseen: The Crook (1970)
It’s Thanksgiving week here in America and you know what that means… yep, tons of movie watching. You wanna know what I’m thankful for? Besides my family, I mean. I’m thankful for Talk Film Society. They let me bring you movies I think you might not have heard of but would enjoy. And what better way to say, “I love you” to your drunk uncle then throwing on this week’s nutty movie from France called The Crook (Le Voyou). If you follow me on Twitter, you know immediately after I tweeted I was watching this movie, I sent another tweet that said “WHAT THE FUCK AM I WATCHING?!” I’ll let you discover this movie’s opening on your own.
This is one of those movies where it’s almost impossible to tell you the plot because the structure of the film is so whack. Let’s put it this way, I’m pretty sure Tarantino has seen this at some point. It’s definitely right up his street. The magnifique Jean-Louis Trintignant stars as Simon ‘The Swiss’ Duroc. He’s a thief who has spent some time in prison as well as some time on the lam. The director, Claude Lelouch, was not afraid to play around with the narrative. He reaches into his overflowing bag of tricks and throws it all on the screen. And I do mean all. This movie is anything but conventional.
I’ve seen a few comments about the movie, saying it’s boring or too confusing. Yes, because of the plot structure, you do have to pay attention but boring it ain’t. At one point, Duroc and his accomplices pull off the most amazingly elaborate scam. It’s a joy to watch it happen in almost real time. For those that like a little car chase with your French crime thriller, this movie has you covered.
Trintignant is pretty great as Duroc. His devilish charm is on full display here. His co-stars Danièle Delorme, Christine Lelouch, and Yves Robert are all worthy of keeping up with Trintignant. I’m not usually one to cry ‘remake’ but I think I’d love to see someone take a stab at this. Then again, this movie is tres ‘70s and tres French so maybe that’s why it works so well.
Generally, I try to recommend films that are easy(ish) to find but this one I’m going to make you work for a little bit. We are those weird folks who still use Netflix for their DVDs, as well as streaming, so we found the movie there. There's a high-priced DVD on sale on Amazon or if you live in a city that still has cool video stores (I’m looking at you, I Luv Video & Vulcan), you can check for it there. The Crook is definitely worth the effort, especially if you want to blow Nana’s mind this week.