ⓘ The Burglars


ⓘ The Burglars

Le Casse is a 1971 movie directed by French director Henri Verneuil, starring Jean-Paul Belmondo, Omar Sharif, Dyan Cannon and Robert Hossein. It is based on the 1953 novel by David Goodis and revolves around a team of four burglars chased by a corrupt policeman in Athens. Its a remake of the 1957 film The Burglar with Jayne Mansfield.

The movie is known for its spectacular car chase and Belmondos incredible fall from a construction truck down a steep, rocky hillside. The movie was shot twice, once in French and once in English, by the same cast.


1. Plot

In Athens, Azad Jean-Paul Belmondo, Ralph Robert Hossein and 2 other accomplices, Renzi and Helen, steal a suitcase of emeralds from a rich Greek citizen, M.Tasco, when the latter is away on vacation.

The thieves break into the house, manage to open the safe, and escape with the jewels. A police detective, Abel Zacharia Omar Sharif, spots the burglars’ car in front of the house. Azad chats with the detective telling a cover story of being a salesman with engine trouble. Zacharia leaves and Azad thinks he has gotten away with it.

The thieves plan to leave the country immediately on a merchant ship. However when they arrive at the dock they discover the ship is undergoing repairs and will not be ready for five days. They hide the money, split up, and agree to wait out the delay.

Zacharia reappears, having decided to find and keep the emeralds himself. Azad falls in love with Lena.

Zacharia identifies the thieves and kills Renzi, seeing to it that Ralph seems guilty of the crime.

Azad narrowly escapes the police with Lena, but he soon discovers that she is conspiring with Zacharia.

Ralph is arrested by police.

Azad and Zacharia have a confrontation which results in Zacharia being buried under wheat.


2. Production

The Burglar by David Goodis had been published in 1953 and filmed in 1956. Goodis was popular with French filmmakers; his novel Down There had been adapted by François Truffaut as Shoot the Piano Player 1961.

Filming took place in Athens and Paris.


3. Reception

The film was a box office hit in France, being the sixth most popular movie of the year.

The Los Angeles Times said "the scenery is lovely, Belmondo is fun to watch even in a flat, silly part like this" but that it was "finally an uninteresting and uninvolving movie" because "it has no reality except as a movie".

The New York Times called it "yet another international caper film. that does nothing very well and almost everything in excess" in which the director would "fill up a great deal of film time with a device rather than with an action".

Time Out said the film "suffers an overdose of sunshine and multi-national production values to emerge as just another glossy heist."