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Claude Sautet's


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Directed by Claude Sautet
France, 1960
Starring Lino Ventura, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Sandra Milo, Marcel Dalio
In French with English subtitles
Approx. 103 min. 4K DCP Restoration.

Family man and gangster Lino Ventura (ELEVATOR TO THE GALLOWS, ARMY OF SHADOWS), holed up in Italy for over a decade, needs some startup money in order to return to France, where he's been sentenced to death in absentia. With Milan's Duomo looming in the background (shot on location), he and a crony execute a split-second payroll heist — in broad daylight — then begin a lightning-fast getaway via underground passages, cars, motorcycle, bus, speedboat, and ambulance. Only the beginning of the mounting mayhem.

Bridging argot-rich '50s masterworks like Dassin’s RIFIFI and Becker’s TOUCHEZ PAS AU GRISBI with Melville's pared-down thrillers of the 1960s, CLASSE TOUS RISQUES (referring to a kind of insurance policy, à la DOUBLE INDEMNITY, but also a pun on "tourist class") is a penetrating study of a tough guy at the end of his rope, drawn from screenwriter and ex-con José Giovanni's first-hand knowledge of the post-war French underworld.

Directed with an acute feeling for characterization, this was the first major feature for Sautet (CÉSAR AND ROSALIE, LES CHOSES DE LA VIE, etc.) and the first teaming of the two great French cinema icons: former wrestling champ Ventura, here making a career-decisive move into lead roles, and 26-year-old New Wave wunderkind Jean-Paul Belmondo, straight from Godard's BREATHLESS.

Despite a "Who's Who" crew and cast — including composer Georges Delerue (CONTEMPT), cinematographer Ghislain Cloquet (AU HASARD BALTHAZAR), and co-stars Marcel Dalio (GRAND ILLUSION, RULES OF THE GAME, CASABLANCA), Sandra Milo (the late star of Fellini's 81/2) — CLASSE TOUS RISQUES got lost in the New Wave shuffle. In this country, a dubbed version called THE BIG RISK came and went in drive-ins and grindhouses before disappearing — until Rialto Pictures' first U.S. release of the complete French language version in 2005.

2024 marks the centennial of director Claude Sautet.

Restored in 4K HDR Dolby Vision by TF1 Studio at Éclair Classics laboratory, from the original camera negative and the French sound negative. Funding provided by the CNC, Coin de Mire Cinéma, and OCS.

Description courtesy Rialto Pictures.

Presented with support from the George Fasel Memorial Fund for Classic French Cinema and the Ada Katz Fund for Literature in Film



“A MASTERPIECE OF THE FRENCH GANGSTER DRAMA…a tough and touching exploration of honor and friendship among thieves”.
– A.O. Scott, The New York Times
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“LIKE DISCOVERING A BOTTLE OF MARVELOUS FRENCH WINE and finding it every bit as its reputation promised. That’s how good this classic fatalistic French gangster film is.” 
– Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
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“STUNNING… expertly balances terse macho theatrics and a surprising tender emotional throughline.”
– New York Magazine

– John Patterson, The Guardian
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“Belmondo at the dawn of his stardom. He makes the kind of entrance you notice; wearing a loud, tweed overcoat would be perfect for a stickup, because witnesses would remember the coat instead of the guy inside. His entrance is an important moment in movie history. The French New Wave descended more or less directly from mainstream French crime films made in the 1950s, and if there is a missing link in that evolution, it might be this one.”
– Roger Ebert
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