Color, 1975, 86 mins. 36 secs.
Directed by Jacques Godbout
Marc Legault, Dorothée Berryman, Pierre Gobeil, André Guy, Gilbert Chénier, Julien Poulin, Gilles Renaud
Canadian International Pictures (Blu-ray) (US R0 HD) / WS (1.85:1) (16:9)
Anyone who caught Canadian International Pictures' The Other French New Wave: Volume 1 was probably impressed by the third feature in that set, Yul 871, from director Jacques Godbout. Now you get a very different side of him with 1975's La Gammick or The Mob, a very Québécois take on the atmospheric crime thrillers pouring out of France in the '60s and '70s with actors like Alain Delon and Jean-Paul Belmondo. Here we get a variation on the "hood tries to make his life better and screws it all up in the process" storyline, set against the melancholy backdrop of a very '70s Canada with a bit of a narrative twist.
Scowling, abusive, and ambitious thug François “Chico” Tremblay (Legault) decides to impress the Montreal underworld by pulling off a job in New York City, a way to pocket an easy $50 grand despite warnings from his peers about stepping out of bounds. At first he uses the opportunity to impress his girlfriend, Rita (Scanners II: The New Order's Berryman), by buying some fancy jewelry and bragging about New York to anyone in earshot. Unfortunately Rita lets his trip slip at the wrong time at dinner, which ends up putting a target on Chico's back for both the mob and the cops. With little to lose, Chico decides to call up a radio talk show and open the floodgates about his career choice, something that steers his fate in a very different direction.
Though the violent action is mostly confined to the opening and closing minutes (and even then isn't particularly graphic), this is a hard-boiled, noir-inspired crime film to the core with a heavy colorful '70s gloss to keep things interesting. Legault's performance is full of bravado, making him a compelling subject despite the fact that his character has no redeeming traits whatsoever. The overall vibe is the main attraction here, supported by a marvelous music score by François Dompierre that would make a killer soundtrack release someday; add to that a cracking good climax with a perfect final shot and this is an enjoyably jaded gem that's been tucked away for far too long.
The region-free CIP Blu-ray of The Mob looks terrific thanks to a 2K scan from the 35mm interpositive with extremely rich, vibrant colors throughout and fine, natural film grain along with impressive detail. The DTS-HD MA 2.0 mono track (mostly in French but with a few English-speaking bits peppered around) sounds excellent as well and features optional English subtitles (just for the French-speaking scenes or entire SDH ones throughout -- a good call). The wildly entertaining "Criminels Québécois" (38m59s) is a great reel of excellent quality, subtitled Quebec crime film trailers from the ’60s and ’70s including Rope Around the Neck (1965), The Big Rock (1969), Red (1970), The Smart Ones (1972), Dirty Money (1972), Réjeanne Padovani (1973), The Death of a Lumberjack (1973), O.K.... Laliberté (1973), Bingo (1974), Gina (1975), this film, Ti-mine, Bernie and the Gang... (1977), and Jig-Saw (1979). Fingers crossed a bunch of these end up in a boxed set soon! The main feature can be played with or without a companion short by Peter Foldes, Hunger (1974, 11m23s), a surrealistic animated short (with a very funky score) about an office worker's lunch hour that morphs into something truly indescribable. Also included here is Les « troubbes » de Johnny (1974, 20m45), Godbout's very lighthearted short film about an enthusiastic hockey goalie whose refusal to take off his gear alienates his girlfriend, which leads to a bizarre, day-long expedition across town that involves loss of clothing, a weirdly accented Mountie, a priest, and lots of other silliness.
Reviewed on June 30, 2022.