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La Môme vert-de-gris

Poison Ivy
Im Banne des Blonden Satans

France 1953
produced by
Bernard Borderie for Compagnie Industrielle et Commerciale Cinématographique (= CICC), Pathé
directed by Bernard Borderie
starring Eddie Constantine, Dominique Wilms, Howard Vernon, Darío Moreno, Jean-Marie Robain, Maurice Ronet, Nicolas Vogel, Jean-Marc Tennberg, Philippe Hersent, Gaston Modot, Spencer Teakle, Georges Wilson, Tony Jarvis, Don Ziegler, Jess Hahn
screenplay by Jacques Berland, Bernard Borderie, based on the novel by Peter Cheyney, music by Guy Lafarge

Lemmy Caution

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Mickey (Maurice Ronet), a small-time crook, is killed in Casablanca, but before he dies he manages to babble something about 2 million Dollars that are to be stolen from an international money transport to the police. The police takes this seriously, and soon informs the FBI ... and the FBI soon sends their ablest man: Lemmy Caution (Eddie Constantine), a hard-drinking, hard-hitting womanizer.

And though even upon his arrival in Casablanca the corpses seem to pile up left and right of Lemmy as if to warn him, he soon finds a promising clue: It seems that dead Mickey's sister Carlotta De La Rue (Dominique Wilms) has a relationship with crooked bar owner Rudy (Howard Vernon), whom Lemmy believes (correctly as it will eventually turn out) to have killed Mickey.

Lemmy does what he does best, he tries to sweettalk Carlotta and this way convince her that Rudy has killed her brother, but this tactic doesn't quite pay up, and after a time (and a kiss) he and Carlotta  end up throwing insults at each other, which eventually leads to Lemmy and Rudy getting at each other's throats, though at first, Lemmy can cheat his way out of the situation.

The next though, Lemmy's friend, the alcoholic journalist G.D.B. (Jean-Marc Tennberg) lures him into a trap, and all of a sudden, Lemmy finds himself captive on Rudy's yacht, and repeatedly, Rudy and his men try to kill Lemmy, only to be held back by Carlotta, who seems to have something even worse for him in her mind ...

Eventually though, Lemmy manages to escape and swim to the nearest coast, and not only that, Rudy was naive enough to tell him about his plans before the escape: He plans to hijack a plane making a delivery from the American treasurey, force it to land in the desert, and then hide the money on the yacht and wait on high sea until the whole affair has blown over.

Knowing all that, Lemmy sets out to singlehandedly take apart the whole organisation, and is sometimes helped by a mysterious stranger - who eventually turns out to be Carlotta, who has sided with him after all after she got proof that Rudy killed her brother, furthermore she has of course fallen for him, and now helps him in his shoot-out against Rudy and his men - and of course, in the end she and Lemmy can kill Rudy, even though they both have emptied their guns on his men ...

 

La Mome vert-de-gris was then successful singer Eddie Constantine's second film - and at the same time the film that would ultimately define his screen persona: that of the hard-hitting, hard-drinking, womanizing lawman/secret agent who would have tongue-in-cheek written all over his face. True, Eddie Constantine was never a versatile actor, sometimes he in fact was incredibly wooden, but he had that certain star charisma. In this film - like in many later films, especially when he is allowed to play his screen persona - he dominates pretty much every scene he is in (and he is in a lot of them), not an easy feat considering his nemesis is the charismatic character actor Howard Vernon.

Of course, one cannot take the film as such seriously, it's a crime/action comedy with Eddie Constantine as a parody of the hard-boiled characters the likes of Humphrey Bogart used to play so well. And director Bernard Borderie is certainly no refined or even subtle director, he is no Howard Hawks or John Huston (to take the Bogart-analogy a little further), but he knows how to keep things going at a steady pace, where to place fist fights and shoot-outs, knows when a corpse has to pop up to keep things going, and has no illusions of doing anything like art.

So if you want to be entertained and can forgive the somewhat stupid story and the script's inconsistencies, you might like, even love this film, if however you look for a serious crime-movie, let alone art, you might be wasting your time.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
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Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD