Tracking Shots

Fans of old-school French crime flicks will be reconvening at Film Forum, where Claude Sautet's 1960 Classe Tous Risques has what amounts to its local premiere. (A dubbed version opened 40-something years ago on 42nd Street as The Big Risk.) The title is an untranslatable pun on tourism and insurance; the premise is existential. Sad-eyed, big-beaked Lino Ventura, usually a secondario, here plays a brutally resourceful slab of beefcake—a French thug on the lam in Italy for a decade who needs to get back home, along with his wife and two little boys. A daylight robbery in Milan precipitates a remarkable chase through Italy topped by a shoot-out on the beach at Nice. Stuck with the kids, Ventura manages to make his way to Paris, thanks to guardian angel Jean-Paul Belmondo, fresh from Breathless and the cutest pug-ugly in Pigalle. In those precincts, it's as if the old-timer has returned from the dead.

Classe Tous Risques is shot on city streets but unfolds in the world of the movies—in a Godardian touch that anticipates Godard, the Ventura character is identified by the cops as "an old pal of Pierrot le Fou." The new titles are flavorsome, and the restoration is up to Rialto's previous high standards—shades of gray with the pale glow of an overcast autumn sky.

 
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