September 23, 2009

La Vie en Rogue: 'Cartouche' Prevails Despite Zs

So sue me. I'm a lot older than I used to be (as is everyone, of course), and that means I just can't stay up until the wee hours merely to watch a good movie.

At least, not as often.

That was the case last night with Cartouche, Philippe de Broca's exuberant, swashbuckling romp from 1962, which Trudi and I watched about a third of before heading off to catch some Zs. With terrific, colorful cinematography by Christian Matras, a stunning, Purcell-esque score by Georges Delerue, and charming performances by the likes of Jean-Paul Belmondo, Claudia Cardinale and Jean Rochefort, Cartouche has got what it takes to be one of those relatively unknown classics.

Except it has a really downbeat ending...which I didn't get a chance to revisit last night, owing to the soporific atmosphere at La Maison de Simon Butler.

What I did see, however, was "cherce." The story in part concerns a lovable, lower-class thief in 18th-century France, Cartouche (played disarmingly by the roguish Belmondo), who, to escape the villainous mob boss Malichot (a menacing Marcel Dalio), joins the army with two other no-goodniks (Rochefort and Jess Hahn), and then proceeds to return to his thieving ways. Trudi and I got as far as a superbly choreographed fight scene set in a tavern, in which broad slapstick was juxtaposed with delicate swordplay among Belmondo and a set of upper-class twits, and then we had to exeunt omnes.

Oh, well. Looks like we'll finish it later...perhaps tonight?

So far, the movie is even better than I remember it, which may be setting me up for disappointment once I review the ending. Still, it's got many exciting moments, including a bit of anti-war sentiment that echoes de Broca's 1966 cult classic, Le Roi de Coeur. (Two generals even kill each other in the heat of battle, which also happens, ironically, toward the end of LRDC.) I'm looking forward to seeing the rest--whenever that may be. I'm also looking forward to staying up to finish it.

That might be a much taller order.

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