Noir City International (Virtual) Film Festival: Saturday Marathon part one: RAZZIA and ANY NUMBER CAN WIN

Big day yesterday, with four flicks on the roster and no rest for the wicked. I’ve decided to spilt my write up into two separate posts to keep things relatively short and snappy. I wouldn’t want you to get bored and click back to doomscrolling or watching more funny cat videos. Anyway, with that in mind, let’s get right into it.

First up: RAZZIA.

The full title of this one is RAZZIA SUR LA CHNOUF, which according to Eddie Muller means something like “raid on the coke sniffers.” It stars this guy.

This is Jean Gabin, a wildly popular French tough guy who can apparently get it any time he wants. I don’t see the appeal, personally, but then again Bogey isn’t exactly what you’d call an objective snack and yet we all accept him as fuckable in pretty much any context.

Anyway, I digress.

RAZZIA follows Gabin as a veteran racketeer who has just rolled into town to shape up the local drug trade. It’s a sordid, surprisingly violent and frankly (!) sexual crawl through the French underworld and its quirky, damaged and memorable denizens.

I facetiously referred to this flick on Twitter as the story of a guy who eats, fucks and does crimes and, sarcastic oversimplification notwithstanding, it basically is exactly that. Not that that’s a bad thing, mind you.

Seriously, I’ve never seen a guy eat so often in a noir flick. This man has appetites.

Speaking of appetites, the other notable thing about this film is the complex and compassionate portrayal of addicts. Particularly the women, like Lila Kedrova’s character Lea.

Even though the film sometimes felt a bit longish and probably could have done with some judicious snips here or there, I was particularly fascinated by the female drug dealer who set up shop for her all-girl clientele in the women’s bathroom. I could have watched a whole film about her.

Speaking of side characters who needed a whole film about them, we also need to talk about this dapper, aging butch.

I love that she is still dressing in the style of a previous decade and that she seems totally out and unapologetic about who and what she is. I want to know her story. Also, our hero is eating in this scene. Again.

While there are a lot of really interesting and unexpected characters populating this flick, unfortunately Magali Noel’s sugary good girl Lisette isn’t one of them.

She basically just exists to be pretty and occasionally dab a cold cloth on our hero’s wounded brow. Which is really too bad because there are so many other interesting female characters. She does have some superb Bitch Eyebrows though.

On to our next feature, ANY NUMBER CAN WIN.

Jean Gabin is in this one too, along with undisputed objective French snack Alain Delon.

Gabin is a crafty old lion fresh out of the joint and looking to get back in the mix. Delon is the cocky young hot shot with the skills and charm they’ll need to pull off a daring casino heist.

Based on a pulp novel by San Francisco bad boy Zekial Marko, writing as John Trinian.

ANY NUMBER is a stylish and slang-tastic heist flick with a great jazzy score, hot barely-dressed babes (both male and female) and a twisty plot. It’s also packed with great hardboiled banter that went right over my American head. If you speak French, you’ll undoubtedly get way more out of this one than I did, but even if you don’t it’s still gorgeous and fun and definitely worth watching. Especially the breathtaking heist sequence itself and the pitch perfect ending.

Get in, losers. We’re going to Noir City!

Mistress Christa says check both of these films out and hang tight for part two.

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