Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tuesday's Overlooked Film: Quand la ville s'éveille (1975)

I  bought this French crime film on an old VHS cassette from a thrift store for 10 or 20 cents. I knew nothing about it, but I thought it might be worth to take a look at. It turned out it was both yes and no: the film is quite stilted, but it's still a French crime film from the seventies! And with this I mean the fact that the French probably make - or at least used to make - the best crime movies after the Americans and Hollywood.

Writer-director Pierre Grasset (who also stars) worked on some of Jean-Pierre Melville's films and it shows. This too goes for the Melville-type fatalism and existentialism, as it's about old career criminals who are retired, but gather together to make the last job and then really retire. Of course it all goes terribly wrong, but they do it anyway, without flinching an eye.

What's wrong about the movie is the reason why the job goes so wrong. They could've avoided it so easily. After the crucial scene it's only implausible. Still, there are some cool moments in which old guys dressed up in long trench coats shoot each other at desolate fields and subway stations. This could've been my stuff.

What also bugs me is that they use almost only one piece on the soundtrack - I got pretty tired of the accordion song, even though it turned out be by Astor Piazzolla. Disconcerting was also the fact the movie, of course originally in French, was dubbed in English - luckily it was pretty well made.

One thing still: the film seems to have quite a many titles. The original French title is above, but there's some confusion as to what the English and Finnish titles are. Both IMDb and the Finnish VHS database claim this was called When the City Awakes, but as you can see from the photo (sorry about the quality!) in the opening titles it's called Hot Day Afternoon (which doesn't really fit). The Finnish title in the VHS cover (see the photo above) is Lehtileike, which means "A Newspaper Clip" (doesn't make much sense), but as you can see, in the titles it's Keikkojen keikka, which means "The Hardest Job" or maybe "The Last Job", if you know what I'm getting at. I don't know where they got the last title, since the film wasn't shown here in theaters. Maybe there's an earlier VHS publication of which no one is aware of.

More Overlooked Movies at Todd Mason's blog.

1 comment:

Howard Sherman said...

I'm a huge supporter of forgotten work - films, books, music, you name it. I salute you for shining a spotlight on Squand la ville s'eveille! This is a movie I could see myself enjoying even considering the shortcomings.