Before there was Ocean’s Eleven, there was Bob le flambeur. While Amelie might take top honours for being Montmartre’s most famous film, Bob le flambeur is surely the area’s finest cinematic offering.
Written and directed by the pioneering French director Jean-Pierre Melville, Bob is a classic heist film that would be a precursor to the French New Wave and an influence on 50s American cinema.
Filmed mostly in Montmartre (aside from the final scenes in Deauville), the film captures the historic area after dark. Focusing on the criminal underbelly of the once bohemian village, it follows Bob’s (Roger Duchesne), attempt to rob a casino. Recently released from prison, Bob looks for one last score to restore his hedonistic lifestyle.
Bob le flamer features a Montmartre that was never seen before in film, nor since. A dapper anti-hero, Bob negotiates the luxurious hotspots of late-night 50s Montmartre, trying to recruit a team of professionals to help him with his last job.
Bob le flambeur was Melville’s first original screenplay and the first of his many iconic gaangster films. An hommage to a Montmartre that no longer exists, the evocative images of the area are its most alluring in film.
“A love letter to Paris at a very special time of night – the hours between darkness and dawn when the signs above the all-night cafés switch off and the morning light gradually seeps into the narrow street.”
– David Denby, The New Yorker
The film would later go on to directly inspire Ocean’s Eleven and The Good Thief. However, neither would be as well regraded as Melville’s classic noir.
You can retrace Bob’s late night crawls from our hostel, located right in the centre of the area. Books with us now and discover Montmartre on your doorstep!