Sunday, April 06, 2003
One of my favorite movies is a French crime film from 1955 called Bob le Flambeur. It's about an aging gangster and compulsive gambler who comes up with a plan to rob a casino with some of his buddies when his gambling losses get too much for him, despite having sworn off committing crimes years before. This film is full of moody black and white photography, with great scenes of Paris at night. Bob is played by an actor named Roger Duchesne, who looks better in a trenchcoat than any man I have ever seen; he has a wonderful world-weary air about him. (I saw Bob le Flambeur in an art-house theater in LA about a year ago, and as my friends and I were exiting the theater I said, "If Duchesne had just stood in his trenchcoat and looked at the audience for two hours it would have been almost as good.")
So this weekend I picked up a copy of Entertainment Weekly and read that an American remake of Bob is being released this week.
Starring Nick Nolte.
Titled The Good Thief. (Why don't they just call it "Generic Title" and have done with it?)
Now let's be fair here. The film has gotten some favorable reviews. Nor am I trying to imply that Nick Nolte can't act. But...
It's just not right. For instance, why did the filmmakers make the Bob character a heroin addict? (Which they did.) The original film makes it clear that Bob has an addiction to gambling, and this addiction both precipitates his involvement in the crime and influences the outcome of the robbery attempt. It drives the plot, in other words. Now unless changing Bob's addiction sends the film in a whole new direction, I don't see the point.
And Nick Nolte, with all due respect, is no Roger Duchesne. I can't see the guy in a trenchcoat.
Oh, I'll probably see it for curiosity's sake. But the French are pissed off enough at us as it is without making films like The Good Thief out of classics like Bob le Flambeur. Chirac will probably never speak to us again.