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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not just a pretty picture
Casque D'Or may take a little while to get into, with the first half hour being largely milieu and set-up, but once the plot kicks in it's a compelling doomed romance. Seen today it seems certain to have been one of Scorsese's influences in Gangs of New York, not least because Jacques Becker takes the standard period costume drama setting, the opening scenes almost an...
Published on 20 Jun 2007 by Trevor Willsmer

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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Casque d'quoi?
I remember this film coming out as a child - it was shown at the Academy on Oxford Street and was given an 'X' certificate. The film was called 'Golden Marie' in Britain and, even at my young age, I liked the 'look' of MARIE! Over the years, I never got to see this film, but saw many films made by its stars including 'La Ronde'. I lived in Paris for many years and...
Published on 5 Sep 2012 by Execelsior


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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not just a pretty picture, 20 Jun 2007
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Casque D'Or [DVD] [1952] (DVD)
Casque D'Or may take a little while to get into, with the first half hour being largely milieu and set-up, but once the plot kicks in it's a compelling doomed romance. Seen today it seems certain to have been one of Scorsese's influences in Gangs of New York, not least because Jacques Becker takes the standard period costume drama setting, the opening scenes almost an Auguste Renoir painting come to life, and then plays a down-and-dirty movie that pays no attention to the niceties you're expecting: these characters really are low lives. The knife-fight is tough stuff, and its aftermath beautifully staged, and the finale has real emotional power - not least the shots of Serge Reggiani's almost-dead waltz with Smone Signoret that in a more 'modern' (1940-50s) setting would have pegged out his fate from the moment he met her. Having only seen Signoret in her later haggard roles, it was also a surprise to see just how luminous she was in her youth. Impressive stuff.

StudioCanal's Blu-ray release offers a very impressive transfer marred only by their passion for really tiny subtitles, though curiously they've not included any of the extras from their earlier French release (home movie footage and audio interview with Serge Reggiani, stills and poster gallery and original theatrical trailer), offering only a new half-hour documentary on the film instead. Luckily this turns out to be surprisingly good, detailing the production problems (the film was stalled for years because of a dispute between Julien Dvivier and Becker over who had the right to direct it), the development of the script from a Louis Javert crime movie to a doomed romance and it's poor initial reception at the French box-office and from the critics before its international success prompted local audiences to take another look. Along with extensive interview footage with assistant director Alain Jessua, it also offers extracts from audio interviews with Reggiani, Signoret, Becker and Jean Renoir as well as incorporating part of the trailer.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Becker's Masterpiece, 7 Jan 2012
By 
Mr. Geoffrey H. Thorne (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Casque D'Or [DVD] [1952] (DVD)
It has taken me until the age of 65 to get involved deeply with classic French films. I can honestly state that, as a result, I feel that I have missed a very great deal for many years. Until I saw "Casque d'Or", I thought that "Madame de ..." and "Les Enfants du Paradis" were the best that I had seen and I was somewhat reticent in seeing this film. How wrong could I be?

Between them, Serge Reggiani (who almost made his part a silent one), Claude Dauphin and, in particular, Simone Signoret are, quite simply, wonderful and, in fact, unforgettable. Becker's direction is clear, uncluttered and beautiful, especially in the countryside scenes, which are very reminiscent of Renoir's "Une Partie de Campagne", and, indeed, Renoir's father's paintings. The filming and the acting here are all-important and the stars and the entire supporting cast are totally attuned to the story in hand.

Until you have seen Signoret in this film, I am sure that you might find it strange that she was so popular. Watch this film and you will see exactly why she is considered as one of the leading French actresses. Her screen-presence is astounding and you can also see why Manda (Reggiani) falls for her.

The strangest aspect of the film is that it was a failure in France when it was released. It is, quite simply, a masterpiece and should be seen by anyone who appreciates exceptionally well-made, and well-acted, films.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Successfully Recreates Ambiance of "Belle Epoque" Paris, 31 Oct 2010
By 
Stephanie De Pue (Wilmington, NC USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Casque D'Or [DVD] [1952] (DVD)
"Casque D'Or," ("Golden Helmet," or "Golden Marie,") (1952), is a classic black and white French gangster film/crime drama/romance/costume drama, set in Paris at about the turn of the 20th Century, the 1890's "Belle Epoque." In springtime, at an Impressionistic, riverside, open-air dance hall, the members of Leca's gang are relaxing with their women. One of them, the cheerful prostitute Marie, aka "Casque d'Or" (Golden Helmet) meets Georges Manda, an ex-con trying to go straight as a carpenter. The pair instantly has eyes only for each other, an instance of what the French call a "coup de foudre," literally a thunderbolt of madness. But the man who keeps Marie, Roland is jealous, and the boss Leca himself has his eye on her, giving us a story of the glory of love, illicit romance, death, friendship and jealousy during the Belle Epoque. The movie was written and directed by Jacques Becker and it was not successful upon its initial French release. However, after it received critical acclaim in New York, and Simone Signoret's nomination for a BAFTA (the British equivalent of an Oscar) for her performance as Marie, it began to be recognized for the masterpiece it is. It has now been painstakingly restored by the Criterion Collection.

Becker came by his filmic Impressionism naturally, as he studied with the great French director Jean Renoir (La Grande Illusion - Special Edition [DVD] [1937]), son of the widely beloved Impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir. "Casque" successfully recreates the ambiance of Paris at the turn of the century: it is bathed in dazzling golden light that frequently reflects off Signoret's golden hair. The exquisite black and white photography was by Robert Lefevbre, who had poetic ways to get the shots M. Becker wanted. The atmospheric music of Georges Van Parys will remind the viewer of the paintings and places of that era. Location shooting was done at Annet-sur-Marne, Seine-et-Marne, and Belleville, France: the latter then a small country town near Paris, now absorbed into the greater city. Sources say that Becker had wanted to make a gangland picture for years, but couldn't raise the financing, until he signed La Signoret, then at the height of her beauty, power, and sensuality - also at the height of her affair with Yves Montand (Wages Of Fear [DVD] [1952]), then simply a cabaret singer. But the director now needed a major part for Signoret, and so based his plot on actual police records of the time. The straight-forward, linear plot has almost the neatness of a De Maupassant short story. Despite it's being a gangland tale, there's little onscreen violence in the film, nor onscreen sex - but some of Manda's and Marie's fully-clothed scenes in this moody romance could scorch film. And despite the corsets and horse-drawn cabs, the film has more in common with the bleak, fatalistic films being released at the time it was made than it does with conventional costume pictures.

Georges Manda ( Serge ReggianiLa Ronde [1950] [DVD]), also a cabaret singer and then a close friend of both Montand's and Signoret's) has been released from prison where he served five years for an undisclosed crime. He's a soft-looking, taciturn man with a handlebar moustache, becomes a hard working carpenter, determined to go straight. But when Raymond (Raymond Bussieres), a fellow gang member with whom he served time in prison, introduces him to Marie, the life he was trying to build begins to crumple. Manda kills the jealous Roland (William Sabatier) in a knife fight. The gang boss Leca (Claude Dauphin Le Plaisir [DVD] [1952]), to the world a successful wine merchant, actually a cunning and Machiavellian outlaw, now sees his opportunity to get Manda out of the picture and take Marie for himself; but he fails to realize Manda will insist on doing the right thing.

The acting of the three stars is superb; although the laconic Manda speaks fewer than twenty lines in the film, we understand him perfectly. And Signoret gives us a strong, unashamed prostitute, wholly in love, but still mindful of who and what she is. Like Zola's "Nana," Marie is neither villain nor victim: she's an elemental force of nature, a femme fatale who will be responsible for the deaths of several men. (Mind you, this is a part frequently almost laughingly overplayed, but this star and director have not fallen into that trap.) Signoret is simply monumental, as one of Pablo Picasso's women. The action takes place over the course of only a few days, but in France that's apparently long enough - if passion runs high enough -- to change, or end a life. The intensity of the characters' emotions and the suddenness of their violence might tear another picture apart, but Becker, and his stars, tell their story with reserve.

An IMDB reviewer calling himself Melvelvit1, from the NYC suburbs, has done some stunning research and tells us:

"The bands of roughnecks of Belleville were also a passionate lot, not like the cynical pimps of Montmartre and La Chapelle. Here a man took out a knife for a girl he really cared for. In 1902 the story of 'Casque d'Or' made the headlines throughout Paris, both east and west. Two enemy bands of Apaches Mohicans de Paris - sporting their customary insignia of caps, bell-bottom trousers and polka-dotted scarves, had taken to the streets that lay between Belleville and Charonne: 'Le Popincourt' headed by the Corsican Leca, 'Les Orteaux' by Manda, l'Homme! The object of their dispute was not territory but a girl called Amélie Hélie, nicknamed 'Casque d'Or', with a stunning, golden-reddish mane. The confrontation turned into a fullscale pitched battle on Rue des Haies, in which neither knife blades nor guns were spared. To the inquisitive public prosecutor Manda retorted during his trial: 'We fought each other, the Corsican and myself, because we love the same girl. We are crazy about her. Don't you know what it is to love a girl?'"

Jacques Becker must be considered both a luminous artist and a director. His legacy is a trilogy of masterpieces: "Casque d'Or",Touchez Pas Au Grisbi [1956] [DVD] [1953],Le Trou [DVD] [1960]. Signoret, who was later often typecast as a femme fatale, won the Best Actress in a Leading Role for Room At The Top [1959] [DVD] (1959), and was also Oscar-nominated for Best Actress for Ship Of Fools [DVD] [1965] (1965.) You've got star and director at the top of their games here: it's a must-see.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Signoret is fierce, tender, innocent and not, in this sad love story of gangsters and waltzes, 15 Jan 2009
By 
C. O. DeRiemer (San Antonio, Texas, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Casque D'Or [DVD] [1952] (DVD)
This is Belle Époque Paris, which can be a dangerous world where there are few second chances, and none for lovers. Innocence seems to have been long ago wrung out of Marie (Simone Signoret). She's a prostitute and the bought woman of Roland, a handsome, arrogant member of Felix Leca's gang, a group of bullyboy thieves, pimps and murderers. Leca (Claude Dauphin) combines slyness, danger and oiliness in equal measure. Leca wants Marie, and on his terms. She's beautiful in a coarse and knowing way, with a swagger and a hand on her hip, a gangster's girl who takes being slapped as part of the life. When Marie meets Georges Manda, "Jo" (Serge Reggiani), a man who had been part of the life, had served time and now is a carpenter, everything changes. In the dance at the start of the movie, with the gangsters in their tight suits, their women in flouncy gowns and ribbons, cheap waltzes playing, beer and wine on the tables, Marie sees Jo, likes him and flirts. For Jo, he can't take his eyes off her. The music plays on, they dance. The next day Marie sets out to see Jo at his carpenter's shop. Her feelings deepen in some inexplicable way. Marie regains a measure of innocence with Jo and we watch this happen. Jo will do anything to protect her. Marie will do anything to protect Jo. Leca, always there, is determined to have his way.

What first appears to be a turn-of-the-century tale about gangsters and their women turns seamlessly and with foreboding into a hopeless and emotional love story. When we last see Marie I started to choke up. Does Casque d'Or, the story of Marie and Jo, reach the level of tragedy? Probably not, but it will do.

Jacques Becker, the director, didn't make many movies. He was 54 when he died. Le Trou is a tough, nerve-wracking and ironic tale of several prisoners who attempt to dig their way to freedom. Touchez Pas au Grisbi is a gangster film, but even more a view of what middle age will do to us, even gangsters. You won't know whether to smile or just shake your head when Jean Gabin has to reach for his glasses to read a phone number.

It also is somehow pleasantly satisfying to recall Signoret and Reggiani four years earlier in the opening and closing sequences of La Ronde, she the prostitute who loses her heart and he the soldier who quickly forgets her.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vintage Jaques Becker, 15 Mar 2009
By 
Thomas Ludvigsen "b/w aficinado" (Oslo, Norway) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Casque D'Or [DVD] [1952] (DVD)
Casque D'Or is the often underrated director Jacques Becker (Le Trou, Touchez pas au Grisbi)masterpiece. Set in a world of prostitutes and gangsters in fin-de-siécle Paris the film is among the best from the golden age of French cinema. The plot, which is based on a true story recounts a tragic sequence of treachery, murder and death by guillotine. Superb acting by Simone Signoret and Serge Reggiani as the doomed couple gives the film an extra dimension. The eminent photography and its richly detailed evocation of period and milieu make the film most momorable. It's no wonder why Casque D'Or ranks among the best European films of the 1950's.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cinema at its best, 23 Jan 2012
By 
Ra Baxter "douglas" (liverpool) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Casque D'Or [DVD] [1952] (DVD)
I really enjoyed this film. Simone Signoret as the gangster's moll was the star of the show,what a marvelous actress!able to convey more with a mere glance or facial expression than most of todays so called stars could convey in their entire careers.This film has drama,romance and violence in almost equal measure,none of which are overdone or overplayed.The result is ,for me,about as near perfection filmwise as one could hope to get.A classic!
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Casque d'quoi?, 5 Sep 2012
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This review is from: Casque D'Or [DVD] [1952] (DVD)
I remember this film coming out as a child - it was shown at the Academy on Oxford Street and was given an 'X' certificate. The film was called 'Golden Marie' in Britain and, even at my young age, I liked the 'look' of MARIE! Over the years, I never got to see this film, but saw many films made by its stars including 'La Ronde'. I lived in Paris for many years and lived in Belleville, which was once/is a rough area and one-time homes to 'little criminals' and Edith Piaf. The film is dated and rather disappointing for me - obviously I was expecting too much. A 'worthy' effort to make a French film noir that does not quite come off. I would have done better to stick with my imaginary idea of the film.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific film of love in the underworld, 25 Dec 2011
By 
K. Gordon - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Casque D'Or [DVD] [1952] (DVD)
Wonderfully filmed and acted story of tragic love amidst the French
underworld at the turn of the 20th century.

The complex, layered relationships, and subtle manipulations and
interplay between the characters show the hallmark of all Jacques
Becker's work, an interest in the subtle details of human behavior and
emotion, instead of grand, sweeping, complex plots.

Both romantic and cynical, and filmed without any attempt to create a
cliché 'period' look, this brings an air of reality and immediacy to a
story that in other hands seem familiar, maudlin, or trite.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Required viewing, 9 Dec 2009
By 
Mr. A. Campbell-walter (Hoath, Kent UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Casque D'Or [DVD] [1952] (DVD)
Excellent print of a most enjoyable period film. Signoret was in this early film such an attractive seductress. Undoubtably attractive but with such a personality and no pushover. I really enjoy these moral fables, wonderfully acted and shot with a direct simplicity which you rarely get in today's films.
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Casque D'Or [DVD] [1952]
Casque D'Or [DVD] [1952] by Jacques Becker (DVD - 2007)
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