Classe Tous Risques

A masterpiece of the French gangster genre...a tough and touching exploration of honor and friendship amongst thieves.


Classe Tous Risques

Family man and gangster Abel Davos (Ventura), holed up in Italy for over a decade, needs some startup money in order to return to France, where he's been sentenced to death. With Milan's Duomo looming in the background (shot on location), he and a crony execute a split-second payroll heist — in broad daylight — then begin a lightning-fast getaway via underground passages, cars, motorcycle, bus, speedboat, and ambulance. Only the beginning of the mounting mayhem.

Bridging argot-rich '50s masterworks like Dassin's
Rififi and Becker's Touchez Pas Au Grisbi with Melville's pared-down thrillers of the '60s, CLASSE ROUS RISQUES (referring to a kind of insurance policy, à la Double Indemnity, but also a pun on "tourist class") is a penetrating study of a tough guy at the end of his rope, drawn from screenwriter and ex-con José Giovanni's first-hand knowledge of the post-war French underworld.

Directed with an acute feeling for characterization, this was the first major feature for Sautet (
Cesar and Rosalie, Les Choses de la Vie, etc.) and the first teaming of the two great French cinema icons: former wrestling champ Ventura, here making a career-decisive move into lead roles, and 26-year-old New Wave wunderkind Belmondo, straight from Godard's Breathless.

Despite a "Who's Who" crew and cast — including composer Georges Delerue (Contempt), cinematographer Ghislain Cloquet (
Au Hasard Balthazar), and co-stars Marcel Dalio (Grand Illusion, Rules of the Game, Casablanca) and Sandra Milo (the late star of Fellini's 8 1/2) — CLASSE TOUS RISQUES got lost in the New Wave shuffle. In this country, a dubbed version called The Big Risk came and went in drive-ins and grindhouses before disappearing — until Rialto Pictures' first U.S. release of the complete French language version in 2005.

2024 marks the centennial of director Claude Sautet.

Restored in 4K HDR Dolby Vision by TF1 Studio at Éclair Classics laboratory, from the original camera negative and the French sound negative. Funding provided by the CNC, Coin de Mire Cinéma, and OCS.

“Film noir is a French coinage but France's homegrown crime movies, a staple of the 1950s and early '60s, seldom get their due in the United States, however first-rate they might be. Case in point: Claude Sautet's 1960 slam dunk Classe Tous Risques.” — J. Hoberman, The New York Times



“Like discovering a bottle of marvelous French wine you didn't remember you had, opening it and finding it every bit as delicious as its reputation promised. That's how good this classic fatalistic French gangster film is.” — Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
Not Rated
French Cinema, Repertory, Gangster, Noir
Claude Sautet
José Giovanni, Claude Sautet, Pascal Jardin
Lino Ventura, Jean-Paul Belmondo
There are currently no showtimes for this film. Please check back soon.