HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
American Fiction
Poor Things
Thunderclap
Zeiram
Legend of the Bat
Party Line
Night Fright
Pacha, Le
Kimi
Assemble Insert
Venus Tear Diamond, The
Promare
Beauty's Evil Roses, The
Free Guy
Huck and Tom's Mississippi Adventure
Rejuvenator, The
Who Fears the Devil?
Guignolo, Le
Batman, The
Land of Many Perfumes
Cat vs. Rat
Tom & Jerry: The Movie
Naked Violence
Joyeuses Pacques
Strangeness, The
How I Became a Superhero
Golden Nun
Incident at Phantom Hill
Winterhawk
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City
Maigret Sets a Trap
B.N.A.
Hell's Wind Staff, The
Topo Gigio and the Missile War
Battant, Le
Penguin Highway
Cazadore de Demonios
Snatchers
Imperial Swordsman
Foxtrap
   
 
Newest Articles
3 From Arrow Player: Sweet Sugar, Girls Nite Out and Manhattan Baby
Little Cat Feat: Stephen King's Cat's Eye on 4K UHD
La Violence: Dobermann at 25
Serious Comedy: The Wrong Arm of the Law on Blu-ray
DC Showcase: Constantine - The House of Mystery and More on Blu-ray
Monster Fun: Three Monster Tales of Sci-Fi Terror on Blu-ray
State of the 70s: Play for Today Volume 3 on Blu-ray
The Movie Damned: Cursed Films II on Shudder
The Dead of Night: In Cold Blood on Blu-ray
Suave and Sophisticated: The Persuaders! Take 50 on Blu-ray
Your Rules are Really Beginning to Annoy Me: Escape from L.A. on 4K UHD
A Woman's Viewfinder: The Camera is Ours on DVD
Chaplin's Silent Pursuit: Modern Times on Blu-ray
The Ecstasy of Cosmic Boredom: Dark Star on Arrow
A Frosty Reception: South and The Great White Silence on Blu-ray
You'll Never Guess Which is Sammo: Skinny Tiger and Fatty Dragon on Blu-ray
Two Christopher Miles Shorts: The Six-Sided Triangle/Rhythm 'n' Greens on Blu-ray
Not So Permissive: The Lovers! on Blu-ray
Uncomfortable Truths: Three Shorts by Andrea Arnold on MUBI
The Call of Nostalgia: Ghostbusters Afterlife on Blu-ray
Moon Night - Space 1999: Super Space Theater on Blu-ray
Super Sammo: Warriors Two and The Prodigal Son on Blu-ray
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
   
 
  Backfire Some days you just can't dump a fortune in gold
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, AdventureBuy from Amazon
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 3372 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 probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Enoch Sneed
Darren Jones
  Louise Hackett
Mark Le Surf-hall
Andrew Pragasam
Mary Sibley
Graeme Clark
  Desbris M
   

 

Last Updated: