The previously unknown Eddie Constantine became an overnight star in France when La
was released in 1953, one of the most popular films of that
year. The French cinemagoer's appetite for all things American, in particular
noirish gangster films, was rewarded by this tongue-in-cheek pastiche of the B-movie
genre, custom-made for a French audience.
In his first significant film role, Eddy Constantine fits the part of the suave
action hero Lemuel Caution ("Lemmy
pour les dames") like a glove. The film
was so popular that it spawned an entire series of similar thrillers over the following
decade, culminating in Jean-Luc Godard's incomprehensible sci-fi film noir fantasy
Excluding the Godard film, La Môme vert-de-gris
is probably the best film
in the Lemmy Caution series - it is much closer to the B-movie form which inspired
it and is less obviously a parody than some of the later films. Although the film
is slowed by some weak plotting and an excess of superfluous dialogue, it is actually
rather good in places. The location work is impressive for a film of this period
and the action sequences do work to create a sense of dramatic tension. Unlike most
of the later Lemmy Caution films, there are times in this film where you really do doubt
whether our insouciant hero will survive to the next scene. All in all, a very respectable
pastiche of a familiar and much-loved genre.
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