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Les Tontons Flingueurs(1963)
Lino Ventura, Bernard Blier, and Francis Blanche star in this quirky French comedy. To keep a promise to a dying friend, ex-criminal Fernand (Ventura) must return to the life he left behind as he takes over his friend’s empire.
For more about Les Tontons Flingueurs and the Les Tontons Flingueurs Blu-ray release, see Les Tontons Flingueurs Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on January 3, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Lino Ventura, Bernard Blier, Francis Blanche
Director: Georges Lautner
» See full cast & crew
Les Tontons Flingueurs Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, January 3, 2010
Based on Albert Simonin's novel, Gallic director Georges Lautner's "Les tontons flingueurs" a.k.a "Monsieur Gangster" (1963) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of French distributors Gaumont. The disc contains a number of very informative supplemental features. Unfortunately, none of them are subtitled in English. The main feature, however, is English-friendly. Region-Free.
Fernand (Lino Ventura, The Army of Shadows) is a retired gangster who enjoys his life. He has been smart with his money and careful with his former enemies. He does not miss the good old days, though every once in awhile he wonders what happened to those who never got out of the "business".
A good friend of Fernand and a respected crime boss, Louis "the Mexican" (Jacques Dumesnil, Ulysses), is informed that he has only a few days left to live. He invites Fernand to his house and tells him that he has chosen him to take over his business. Fernand must also look after Louis' soon-to-be-married daughter, Patricia (Sabine Sinjen, A Glass of Water).
Fernand isn't happy with his friend's decision, but before he could walk away Louis summons his men and announces that they have a new boss. Almost immediately after that, he dies.
One of Louis' most trusted men, Maître Folace (Francis Blanche, La grande mafia…), informs Fernand that the business is in terrible condition; many of Louis' partners own him large amounts of money. He also urges Fernand to be very careful with Patricia, who has been kept unaware of her father's affairs. Meanwhile, Paul Volfoni (Jean Lefebvre, Un idiot a Paris), an ex-associate of Louis, who has secretly hoped to take over the business, and his men decide to eliminate Fernand.
Based on Albert Simonin's novel, Georges Lautner's Les tontons flingueurs is a classic Gallic crime comedy that is just as witty as it is hilarious. Its plot isn't overly original but the acting, and especially the dialog - courtesy of Michel Audiard (Le professionnel; Mortelle randonnée) and director Lautner - is fantastic.
Les tontons flingueurs is structured as a collage of small episodes, each culminating with a memorable scene. Naturally, Lino Ventura is present in all of them, and the character transformation he undergoes from the moment he is asked to take over Louis' gang to the decisive clash with the Volfonis is most impressive.
Bernard Blier's character, however, is undoubtedly the most entertaining one. Always on the receiving end, he is everything a respected gangster should not be. His numerous attempts to eliminate the source of his troubles are amongst the best scenes in the film.
Like most every other crime comedy director Lautner shot during the 60s, Les tontons flingueurs is infused with a strong sense of parody. In one way or another, he effectively ridicules just about everything that made the "serious" crime films of Jean-Pierre Melville, Henri Verneuil, and Denys de La Patellière successful. Halfway through Les tontons flingueurs, even American crime films are properly addressed.
It has to be said, however, that some of the most effective jabs in Les tontons flingueurs could be rather difficult for non-French speakers to appreciate. There are quick one-liners that are a lot more effective in French than they are translated into English. On the other hand, there are a few specific references to classic French crime films that could remain unnoticed as well.
Les Tontons Flingueurs Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.66:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Georges Lautner's Les tontons flingueurs arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of French distributors Gaumont.
Les tontons flingueurs is one of three Georges Lautner films that were recently released on Blu-ray in France by Gaumont (the other two films are Ne nous fâchons pas and Les Barbouzes). It arrives in one of those thin digipacks the French distirbutors have been using for awhile now.
The high-definition transfer is very strong, approaching the type of quality that we have come to expect from Criterion. Contrast levels are consistent throughout the entire film, clarity very good and fine object detail excellent. The color-scheme is also impressive; blacks are rich and well saturated while whites are gentle and natural looking. Generally speaking, edge-enhancement is not an issue of concern. The film's grain structure is intact, but very light noise corrections have been applied to selected scenes. Furthermore, there are absolutely no stability issues whatsoever; on the contrary, blown through a digital projector the film looks quite remarkable. I also did not detect any disturbing flecks, cuts, warps, or dirt to rerpot in this review. To sum it all up, this truly is a very impressive release by Gaumont that gives me confidence that the terrific classic titles they have announced for Q1 2010 would be special. (Note: This is a Region-Free Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you will be able to play it on your PS3 or SA regardless of your geographical location. For the record, there is no PAL data preceding the main menu).
Les Tontons Flingueurs Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one audio track on this Blu-ray disc: French DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0. For the record, Gaumont have provided optional French SDH and English subtitles for the main feature Please note that the English subtitles can be turned on only through the main menu.
The audio treatment is as impressive as the video treatment. The dialog is clean, crisp, stable and very easy to follow. Some of the shootouts are quite entertaining (you would have to see the film to find out exactly what I mean; suffice to say, the guns used by the two rivaling camps are unique), and the French DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 track certainly allows them to shine. There are no issues to report with Michel Magne's soundtrack.
Les Tontons Flingueurs Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Note: Please note that aside from the theatrical trailer for the film, which is in 1080p, the rest of the supplemental features are not playable on native Region-A PS3s or SA.
La cuisine des Tontons - cast and crew members recall their contribution to the film. In French, not subtitled. (23 min, PAL).
Les secrets des Tontons - a look at the unique characters in the film as well as their extravagant behavior. In French, not subtitled. (22 min, PAL).
Michel Magne, le fantaisiste pop - a documentary film about composer Michel Magne. In French, not subtitled. (52 min, PAL).
Bande annonce originale - the original theatrical trailer for the film. In French, not subtitled. (4 min, 1080p).
Les Tontons Flingueurs Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
If you enjoy classic French crime comedies, but you have never seen Georges Lautner's Les tontons flingueurs, do not miss this wonderful Blu-ray release produced by Gaumont. Lino Ventrura is terrific as Fernand Naudin! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Monsieur Gangster: Other Editions
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