THIEVES OF THE NIGHT (Voleurs de la nuit, Les) (Thieves After Dark)


(director/writer: Samuel Fuller; screenwriter: Olivier Beer from his novel Le Chant des Enfants Morts; cinematographer: Philippe Rousselot; editor: Catherine Kelber; cast: Véronique Jannot (Isabelle), Bobby Di Cicco (François), Andréas Voutsinas (Jose), Claude Chabrol (Tartuffe), Victor Lanoux (Inspector Farbet), Rachel Salik (Mussolini), Samuel Fuller (Zoltan), Jacques Maury (Desterne), Camille de Casabianca (Corinne Desterne), Stéphane Audran (Isabelle’s Mother); Runtime: 98; Parafrance; 1984-France)

“A below-average “Bonnie and Clyde” tale.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A below-average “Bonnie and Clyde” tale, about lovers on-the-run after a murder in Paris. A young couple is pursued for a murder they never did. This B-film, directed by Samuel Fuller, is one of the few he did that failed. The setup seemed so wooden, while the bourgeois villains seemed more like cartoon figures than real people. Even the hero and the heroine failed to be convincing.

François (Di Cicco) is an unemployed violinist. Isabelle (Jannot) is looking for work as an art historian. They are both at the unemployment agency-ANPE-and feel humiliated looking for work and not being offered jobs they feel are respectable. He’s offered a job as a dishwasher by Mr. Crepin (Chabrol), someone he mocks by calling him Tartuffe. Isabelle sees Ms. Morelle (Salik), whom she calls Mussolini, and is offered a job in a porno theater. The counselors have no regard for their unemployed clients and treat them like dirt. Tartuffe hits on his female applicants, while Mussolini combs her mustache instead of listening to her applicants.

Isabelle can’t take it anymore and throws a chair through Mussolini’s window, as the gentle François rescues her in the ensuing chaos. They flee together, have some coffee, and become lovers. Not able to get jobs or make it as street musicians, they decide to become thieves. They rob the three counselors they despise — Mussolini, Mr. Desterne, and Tartuffe — and humiliate them in the same way they have been.

When they rob Tartuffe, he accidentally falls off the ledge of a building. But Isabelle thinks she killed him by frightening him to death. The cops are also after them, led by Inspector Farbet (Lanoux). Their mentor, Jose (Voutsinas), an ex-con now running a junk shop and reconstructing old musical instruments, helps them get a fence (Fuller) for their stolen goods. Jose will later help the lovers escape the police.

Warning: spoiler in next paragraph.

The lovers flee to the border where they are recognized, and Isabelle is unnecessarily killed by a custom police officer. François responds by killing two officers, and is arrested after giving a violin concert. The police now know the couple was innocent of murder, as a witness came forward verifying the death as accidental.

This one might be appreciated only by devoted Sam Fuller fans.