Touchez Pas au Grisbi (1954)

Directed by Jacques Becker

Gentleman gangster Max and his partner, Riton, pull off their last, most successful heist and find themselves comfortable enough to retire in the style they enjoy. However, Max confides the details of the theft to his younger mistress, Josey -- who has secretly taken up with ambitious young rival gangster Angelo. Angelo then has Riton kidnapped and demands the stash of gold as ransom, which threatens Max's dreams of the perfect retirement.

One of the most authentic scenes in the entire gangster genre occurs when they share a late-night dinner of pâté on dry biscuits before getting out a toothbrush.


It is easy to forget how transgressive Becker's film was for the period. In spite of the subdued atmosphere, the film's violence is alarming and brutal, and the narrative has the kind of sordid elements — robbery, murder, dope dealing — more typically found in Eurocrime cinema in the ensuing decades.

Adam Scovell (Sight and Sound)