1974 [FRENCH]

Biography / Crime / Drama

Plot summary

Uploaded by: FREEMAN

Top cast

Jean-Paul Belmondo Photo
Jean-Paul Belmondo as Serge Alexandre Stavisky
Gérard Depardieu Photo
Gérard Depardieu as Le jeune inventeur
Niels Arestrup Photo
Niels Arestrup as Rudolph, le secrétaire de Trotski
Charles Boyer Photo
Charles Boyer as Le baron Jean Raoul
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
1.05 GB
French 2.0
24 fps
1 hr 57 min
P/S ...
1.96 GB
French 2.0
24 fps
1 hr 57 min
P/S ...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by gavin69427 / 10

A Bit of French History

Irresistible charm and talent helps Serge Alexandre alias Stavisky, small-time swindler, to make friends with even most influential members of French industrial and political elite during the early 30s.

The film began as a commission by Jean-Paul Belmondo to the screenwriter Jorge Semprún to develop a scenario about Stavisky. Resnais, who had previously worked with Semprún on "La Guerre est finie", expressed his interest in the project (after a gap of six years since his previous film); he recalled seeing as a child the waxwork figure of Stavisky in the Musée Grevin, and immediately saw the potential of Belmondo to portray him as a mysterious, charming and elegant fraudster.

It seems like most historical French films either take place during World War II (focusing on the occupation) or are in some way related to Algeria. This one really has neither, because it is set between the two world wars, with some interesting supporting characters (Leon Trotsky!). I had never heard of Stavisky, but now I'd be curious to know more (despite having no real passion for French history).

Reviewed by allyjack8 / 10

Not a conventional period romp - but hugely subtle and satisfying

For the first hour or more you keep stumbling - the movie s surface looks like a period romp, helped by Sondheim s elegantly quizzical score, but the narrative is fragmented and frustratingly hard to follow. But as it takes shape (with Resnais pulling a Vertigo by tipping us off on Stavisky s fall about two thirds of the way in) you realize the subtlety of his design - his earlier formal and temporal experiments are incorporated almost seamlessly here into a lush cinematic package. Resnais spends little time on the usual raw material of the genre: the fragility of Stavisky s position becomes apparent almost immediately, and Resnais shows how the myth of the gentleman thief always had to be a sham - emotionally, sociologically and politically. Power is always contingent on the cooperation of others, and thus always endangered. As endangered, indeed, as our confidence in our sense of time and space - in the closing stretch Resnais moves superbly between events before and after Stavisky s death: the man (a spectre; a figure of several manufactured identities) recedes as the overall design takes precedence. The final image though is purely elegiac and nostalgic; perhaps for the art as well as for the man.

Reviewed by bandw8 / 10

Stylishly filmed biopic

This story takes place in France in the 1930s and details the last couple of years in the life of Serge Alexandre Stavisky, a con man whose shenanigans had financial and political repercussions at the highest levels of French government and international financial markets. Stavisky makes Bernie Maddoff look like a piker. His reach was broad: producing fake bonds, fencing jewels, laundering money, bribing officials, and so on. Stavisky would have flourished on Wall Street in the 2000s and he would not even have to have suffered the embarrassing indignity of being prosecuted.

Jean Paul Belmondo is perfectly cast as Stavisky--you get the feeling that if Belmondo had not chosen to be an actor, by using his good looks and charm he could have gone the way of Stavisky. Most con men are good actors after all. Charles Boyer is on hand, in this his penultimate movie, to play Baron Raoul, a member of the French upper class who was taken in by Stavisky. Boyer projects the refined grace of Raoul without breaking a sweat. I found the details lacking as to exactly how Stavisky rose from being the son of a Jewish dentist to the heights he achieved, maybe that is the subject for another movie. Part of his success was surely getting the confidence of Raoul. The essence of a con man seems to be just that, getting the confidence of his targets. The stunningly attractive Anny Deperey plays Stavisky's wife Arlette. She is not called on to do much more than add a touch of beauty and elegance, and she does that quite well. Her wardrobe must have run up the bill.

I was struck by how much effort was put into getting the period details right. This movie should have gotten some award for art direction, every scene is meticulously filmed. Resnais has the artist's eye for the use of color--always pleasing, never pretentious. The presentation is not linear, there are flashbacks as well as flash forwards. Some scenes overlap each other a bit.

The script is not without merit, containing little jewels like, "Old age is the most unexpected thing that ever happens to a man."

I found it challenging to sort out who all of the characters were and what relationships they had with each other. I could have benefited from a dramatis personae that had a brief description of each character. Also, the significance of some of the historical and theatrical references was not apparent to me. For example, I found it interesting to find out that Trotsky was granted asylum in France and lived there for several years in the 1930s, but the relevance of that for this movie escaped me, since Trotsky and Stavisky never met.

This is a quality movie. It puzzles me why it has not gotten more recognition.

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