HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Harpoon
Great Northfield Minnesota Raid, The
Dark Phoenix
No Mercy
Arctic
Fate of Lee Khan, The
El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie
Ladyworld
Rocketman
Kid Who Would Be King, The
Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound
America America
Darkest Minds, The
Along Came Jones
Hummingbird Project, The
Under the Table You Must Go
Harry Birrell Presents Films of Love and War
Hanging Tree, The
Godzilla: King of the Monsters
Scooby-Doo! Camp Scare
Itsy Bitsy
Witchmaker, The
Prey, The
If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium
Happy Death Day 2U
Full Moon High
Strange But True
Kamikaze 1989
Never Grow Old
Time of Your Life, The
Mountain Men, The
Epic
Best Before Death
John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum
Isabelle
Non-Stop New York
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood
Oblomov
Alita: Battle Angel
We the Animals
   
 
Newest Articles
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
Growing Up in Public: 7-63 Up on Blu-ray
Learn Your Craft: Legend of the Witches and Secret Rites on Blu-ray
70s Psycho-Thrillers! And Soon the Darkness and Fright on Blu-ray
Split: Stephen King and George A. Romero's The Dark Half on Blu-ray
Disney Post-Walt: Three Gamechangers
But Doctor, I Am Pagliacci: Tony Hancock's The Rebel and The Punch and Judy Man on Blu-ray
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood: Interview with Director Rene Perez
Shit-Eating Grim: Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom on Blu-ray
Stallone's 80s Action Alpha and Omega: Nighthawks and Lock Up
Python Prehistory: At Last the 1948 Show and Do Not Adjust Your Set on DVD
You Could Grow to Love This Place: Local Hero on Blu-ray
Anglo-American: Joseph Losey Blu-ray Double Bill - The Criminal and The Go-Between
Marvel's Least Loved and Most Loved: Fantastic 4 vs Avengers: Endgame
Battle of the Skeksis: The Dark Crystal Now and Then
American Madness: Sam Fuller's Shock Corridor and The Naked Kiss on Blu-ray
Flight of the Navigator and the 80s Futurekids
Trains and Training: The British Transport Films Collection Volume 13 on DVD
Holiday from Hell: In Bruges on Blu-ray
The Comedy Stylings of Kurt Russell: Used Cars and Captain Ron
Robot Rocked: The Avengers Cybernauts Trilogy on Blu-ray
Hammer's Bloodthirsty Bad Girls 1970: Lust for a Vampire and Countess Dracula
Hammer to Fall: Kiss Me Deadly on Blu-ray
Home of the Grave: The House That Dripped Blood and Asylum on Blu-ray
Wondrous Women: Supergirl vs Captain Marvel
   
 
  Backfire Some days you just can't dump a fortune in goldBuy this film here.
Year: 1964
Director: Jean Becker
Stars: Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean Seberg, Enrico Maria Salerno, Renate Ewert, Jean-Pierre Marielle, Wolfgang Preiss, Diana Lorys, Fernando Rey, Gert Fröbe, Michel Beaune, Roberto Camardiel, Xan das Bolas
Genre: Thriller, Romance, Adventure
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Cocky and adventurous David Ladislas (Jean-Paul Belmondo) accepts a job from 'the Organization' to transport a sports car across Europe. As part of his cover David is accompanied by glamorous photographer Olga Celan (Jean Seberg). Throughout the long sea voyage, David works his charms on a seemingly indifferent Olga who initially resists until they inevitably wind up in bed. When David eventually discovers the car hides a fortune in gold, he impulsively decides to steal it and set himself up comfortably with Olga at his side. However not only is the Organization's chief enforcer Fehrman (Gert Fröbe) hot on David's trail but he finds selling the gold far harder than he thought. On top of that Olga proves somewhat less than trustworthy.

Échappement Libre or Backfire to use its international title reunited iconic French film star Jean-Paul Belmondo and Hollywood actress Jean Seberg to less groundbreaking effect than Breathless (1959). By comparison to that Jean-Luc Godard classic this was a much more mainstream and conventional adventure yarn. More along the lines of those international caper films popular in Europe throughout the Sixties, particularly in the wake of Jules Dassin's Oscar-winning Topkapi (1964). Such films typically assemble an international cast (here alongside two big name leads we have Goldfinger himself Gert Frobe, Fernando Rey, Euro-horror star Diana Lorys, and Wolfgang Preiss star of the Doctor Mabuse franchise) as cool characters pulling off improbable feats in high style at glamorous locations (here Paris, Beirut, Naples and Cologne). Only here director Jacques Becker, in his third film with Belmondo, stirs in some of the romantic fatalism found in unconventional French thrillers like Les Aventuriers (1967).

Belmondo and Seberg play variations on the archetypes they embodied in Breathless. He is the impulsive antihero who bucks the odds living by his wits. She is the ice cool, pragmatic femme fatale. Unlike David, Olga's cynicism clues her in to the fact they have no chance to get rich quick when the mob control every angle. Only in this instance the ice queen thaws in the face of David's almost boyish naivety. Based on a novel by Clet Coroner, the film has a rather sweet romantic theme ("a man can accomplish nothing without a woman by his side") and proves more invested in the playfully shifting relationship between its two leads than maintaining suspense. Becker went on to direct some outstanding dramas, including One Deadly Summer (1983) and Elisa (1995), that greatly benefit from his casual, character-driven style. Backfire however proves plodding and methodical, coasting along on the charm of its iconic leads. The film spends a great deal of screen time watching David try his utmost to charm the pants off Olga while she keeps him at arm's length (for a while, at least) and viewers wonder when the plot will kick in. When it finally does things remain stubbornly pedestrian.

While the legendary Belmondo breezes through the film with his trademark combo of hard-boiled toughness and debonair cool, Seberg impresses as the chic and ambiguous femme fatale who wears sunglasses while making love and only hesitantly reveals her tender side. As with Seberg's other European roles, Backfire proves she was capable of more besides the vulnerable characters she often essayed in Hollywood. The film does grow more compelling in its livelier third act where Becker ramps up the suspense and Belmondo shifts into action mode, capped off with a nicely ironic ending. It also benefits from a delightful be-bop jazz score by Gregorio Garcia Segura and Martial Solal. Interestingly the assistant director on the film was Costa-Gavras who went on to a long and illustrious career making far more substantial political thrillers.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 673 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Paul Smith
Andrew Pragasam
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M
   

 

Last Updated: