French Swashbuckler debuts on Blu 4 Stars

While the French New Wave was taking the world of cinema by storm in the late 1950’s and 1960’s, one French filmmaker stood completely apart from his contemporaries – Philippe de Broca. While his career straddled between lavish big scale productions like King of Hearts (1966) and the more punchy and modern comedies like That Man from Rio (1964), de Broca himself largely defied the dual definition as he often blurred the line between dreams and reality in his movies. One of his best known works – working alongside French New Wave legend Jean-Paul Belmondo – is the swashbuckling adventure Cartouche (AKA Swords of Blood). Previously released on Region B Blu-ray, Kino has the movie available here in the States for the first time with this Blu-ray release.

Cartouche (1962)
Released: 21 Jul 1964
Rated: Not Rated
Runtime: 114 min
Director: Philippe de Broca
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy
Cast: Jean-Paul Belmondo, Claudia Cardinale, Jess Hahn
Writer(s): Daniel Boulanger, Philippe de Broca, Charles Spaak
Plot: In the 18th century, Louis de Bourguignon is working with the Malichot's gang, but their ways are too 'unethical' for him. He creates his own band, acting under the name of Cartouche, making audacious robberies of the rich people, an
IMDB rating: 6.6
MetaScore: N/A

Disc Information
Studio: Studio Canal
Distributed By: Kino Lorber
Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio: French 2.0 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: English SDH
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 1 Hr. 54 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray
Case Type: Blue keep case
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Region: A
Release Date: 06/08/2021
MSRP: $24.99

The Production: 4/5

In 18th Century France, Louis Dominique Bourguignon alias Cartouche (Jean-Paul Belmondo) is a thief working for the Parisian gang of thieves under the control of Malichot (Marcel Dalio).  Feeling that the gang is too unethical for his liking and defying Malichot, Cartouche strikes out on his own, first starting off in the army and finding two new associates in La Douceur (Jess Hahn) and La Taupe (Jean Rochefort) and later returning to Paris to start his own band of thieves. With the beautiful gypsy girl Venus (Claudia Cardinale) by his side, he soon becomes the Robin Hood of France with his exploits of stealing from the rich to give to the poor; however, the police soon learn of Cartouche’s main weakness and make plans to use it against him, eventually leading him down the road that may just lead to the gallows…

A rousing spectacle, Cartouche is a thrilling throwback to the Errol Flynn swashbucklers while carving out a path of its own. While the movie itself was based off the real life Cartouche, who was indeed a highwayman known for his criminal exploits in 18th Century France, the movie does takes some liberties with the real life source by the use of the legends and ballads printed in the many years following his death in the script. Also, the script does employ a solid yet subtle use of slapstick comedy, further underscoring the spoofing of the genre that’s not too self-aware or condescending of it either. There’s really not much to complain about here except for the obvious – the movie ends too soon, due to Philippe de Broca’s breezy direction that keeps the fun and adventure moving along that make the nearly two hour runtime feel shorter.  In short, Cartouche is a highly entertaining adventure that’s both rousing and humorous and still maintains its devil-may-care charm nearly 60 years later.

An icon the French New Wave movement, Jean-Paul Belmondo proves that he can very much handle the sword like Flynn in his portrayal of the eponymous bandit; it’s a top notch role in an iconic career that has garnered international fame. In a breakthrough performance, Claudia Cardinale simply embodies beauty and longing for Cartouche in her role as the gypsy girl Venus; the next year she would become internationally known due to her appearances in Luchino Visconti’s The Leopard, Federico Fellini’s and Blake Edwards’ The Pink Panther. Jess Hahn and Jean Rochefort serve as the Athos and Aramis to Cartouche’s D’Artagnan (in a strange Three Musketeers relationship) in their supporting parts; Hahn was an American expatriate character actor frequently in French films while Rochefort would go to have long and distinguished career on the French stage and screen, culminating in a Honorary César Award in 1999. Other notable appearances include Marcel Dalio as the devious Malichot, Philippe Lemaire as the head of police in Paris, Odile Versois as his wife, who also serves as the reason Cartouche’s heart might be his undoing, Noël Roquevert as the bumbling army recruitment sergeant, Lucien Raimbourg as an equally clueless marshal and Jacques Balutin as the monk Capucine, who helps both Cartouche and Venus escape from the army.

Video: 4.5/5

3D Rating: NA

The film is presented in its original 2:35:1 Dyaliscope aspect ratio for this release, taken from a brand new 4K restoration. Film grain is organic with fine details rendered faithfully as well as the vibrant color palette; there’s only minimal instances of problems like scratches, tears or dirt present. All in all, this is likely the best the movie will ever look on home video.

Audio: 5/5

The film’s original mono soundtrack is presented on a DTS-HD Master Audio track for this release. Dialogue is both strong and clear with Georges Delerue’s stirring score and the sound mix also given faithful representation and fidelity; there’s nearly no instances of crackling, hissing, popping or distortion present. This is easily the best the movie will ever sound on home video.

Special Features: 4/5

Commentary by film critic Simon Abrams – Recorded for this release, Abrams talks about the movie’s production history as well as some of the bios on the cast and crew.

Adventure with a Capital C (26:25) – This featurette from 2019 – presented in French with English subtitles – goes over the making of the film with Alexandra de Broca (the director’s daughter) and journalist Thomas Morales.

Theatrical Trailer (3:32)

Bonus KLSC Trailers – Le Magnifique, Leon Morin, Priest, Le Doulos, Le Professionel & The Outsider

Overall: 4/5

A hit at the French box office, Cartouche cemented the status of both the film’s star and director and paved the way for their greatest success together, That Man from Rio. Kino has done right by the movie with a solid HD transfer and a pair of informative special features to go with it. Very highly recommended.

Amazon.com: Cartouche (Special Edition) [Blu-ray]: Jean-Paul Belmondo, Claudia Cardinale, Jean Rochefort, Jess Hahn, Marcel Dalio, Philippe Lemaire, Noël Roquevert, Odile Versois, Philippe de Broca: Movies & TV

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Angelo Colombus

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Did a blind purchase on this since i like the director's work and Jean-Paul Belmondo. Good film but a few times where the staging of the fighting scenes were not that great but a good film and performances.
 

lark144

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mark gross
I saw this when it came out. The color cinematography was really beautiful. Not anymore. I got the Blu-Ray yesterday. This is possibly the most atrocious, most reprehensible, not to mention obnoxious, use of yellow by L'immagine Ritrovata I have ever seen. It completely destroys the depth of field and makes every actor look aged and icky. The skin tones are awful. Especially Jean-Paul Belmondo. It seems like he's in his 80's and suffering from jaundice, in spite of all that jumping around. I thought, how can he be enegetic when he appears to be dying? All the costumes and sets, which used to have dazzling primaries, especially a bounty of blue and red, now appear to be stuck in amber. I love this film, but I had difficulty watching it. Apparently someone at Bologna decided that since it's a period piece, the color should have the aspect of aged parchment. But that isn't how this film looked upon first release. It was crisp and clear and incredibly three dimensional. It appeared you could walk right into the screen and take part in what was going on. If any of you have seen "Lola Montes" which was photographed by the same cinematographer, Christian Matras, that's what this film looked like. Lovely primaries, and especially a limpid, almost transparent blue. The skies seem to stretch outward into infinity. Now those blue skies are deep yellow, and flat. And because of the extreme yellow bias, even though it's 4K and the image quality is healthy, everything looks fuzzy & electronic. Not film. After watching this unholy mess, the only appropriate statement I can think of is what Belmondo says to Jean Seberg at the end of "Breathless", "Vous êtes vraiment dégueulasse!" Another milestone of French Eastmancolor cinematography destroyed by the folks at L'immagine Ritrovata. I don't know why I bother to buy these things anymore. And I understand "La Piscine" looks the same. Rancid yellow.
 
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david hare

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I saw this when it came out. The color cinematography was really beautiful. Not anymore. I got the Blu-Ray yesterday. This is possibly the most atrocious, most reprehensible, not to mention obnoxious, use of yellow by L'immagine Ritrovata I have ever seen. It completely destroys the depth of field and makes every actor look aged and icky. The skin tones are awful. Especially Jean-Paul Belmondo. It seems like he's in his 80's and suffering from jaundice, in spite of all that jumping around. I thought, how can he be enegetic when he appears to be dying? All the costumes and sets, which used to have dazzling primaries, especially a bounty of blue and red, now appear to be stuck in amber. I love this film, but I had difficulty watching it. Apparently someone at Bologna decided that since it's a period piece, the color should have the aspect of aged parchment. But that isn't how this film looked upon first release. It was crisp and clear and incredibly three dimensional. It appeared you could walk right into the screen and take part in what was going on. If any of you have seen "Lola Montes" which was photographed by the same cinematographer, Christian Matras, that's what this film looked like. Lovely primaries, and especially a limpid, almost transparent blue. The skies seem to stretch outward into infinity. Now those blue skies are deep yellow, and flat. And because of the extreme yellow bias, even though it's 4K and the image quality is healthy, everything looks fuzzy & electronic. Not film. After watching this unholy mess, the only appropriate statement I can think of is what Belmondo says to Jean Seberg at the end of "Breathless", "Vous êtes vraiment dégueulasse!" Another milestone of French Eastmancolor cinematography destroyed by the folks at L'immagine Ritrovata. I don't know why I bother to buy these things anymore. And I understand "La Piscine" looks the same. Rancid yellow.
I agree it’s another stinker run through Bologna’s “piss stain” LUT. But it almost looks good compred to other recent twork from Ritrovata like the other de Brocas in this series in which white itself no longer exists. As usual people associated with the production have been credited with “supervising” the grading but one has to ask was this BEFORE Ritrovata applied the fucking LUT or after. This bullshit color reinvention coming out of Bologna relly has to be called out, every time. God knows that won’t come from reviewers like Tooze, for whom this is nary worth consideration. His reviews are now less than useless.
 

lark144

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I agree it’s another stinker run through Bologna’s “piss stain” LUT. But it almost looks good compred to other recent twork from Ritrovata like the other de Brocas in this series in which white itself no longer exists. As usual people associated with the production have been credited with “supervising” the grading but one has to ask was this BEFORE Ritrovata applied the fucking LUT or after. This bullshit color reinvention coming out of Bologna relly has to be called out, every time. God knows that won’t come from reviewers like Tooze, for whom this is nary worth consideration. His reviews are now less than useless.
It's possible that in order to really appreciate how awful these yellow tinged "restorations" are, one has to have seen the original. And, for me, the orignal prints of "Cartouche" were so beautiful. Also, I though this was much worse than "Juliet of the Spitits" which had a yellow tinge, but with other colors as well. What got to me in terms of "Cartouche" which I hadn't really noticed before, as mostly I've not been buying these things, is how that extreme yellow swept away all the other colors here so many shots are sepia-toned and also flatted and fuzzed out.
 

Robin9

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I saw this when it came out. The color cinematography was really beautiful. Not anymore. I got the Blu-Ray yesterday. This is possibly the most atrocious, most reprehensible, not to mention obnoxious, use of yellow by L'immagine Ritrovata I have ever seen. It completely destroys the depth of field and makes every actor look aged and icky. The skin tones are awful. Especially Jean-Paul Belmondo. It seems like he's in his 80's and suffering from jaundice, in spite of all that jumping around. I thought, how can he be enegetic when he appears to be dying? All the costumes and sets, which used to have dazzling primaries, especially a bounty of blue and red, now appear to be stuck in amber. I love this film, but I had difficulty watching it. Apparently someone at Bologna decided that since it's a period piece, the color should have the aspect of aged parchment. But that isn't how this film looked upon first release. It was crisp and clear and incredibly three dimensional. It appeared you could walk right into the screen and take part in what was going on. If any of you have seen "Lola Montes" which was photographed by the same cinematographer, Christian Matras, that's what this film looked like. Lovely primaries, and especially a limpid, almost transparent blue. The skies seem to stretch outward into infinity. Now those blue skies are deep yellow, and flat. And because of the extreme yellow bias, even though it's 4K and the image quality is healthy, everything looks fuzzy & electronic. Not film. After watching this unholy mess, the only appropriate statement I can think of is what Belmondo says to Jean Seberg at the end of "Breathless", "Vous êtes vraiment dégueulasse!" Another milestone of French Eastmancolor cinematography destroyed by the folks at L'immagine Ritrovata. I don't know why I bother to buy these things anymore. And I understand "La Piscine" looks the same. Rancid yellow.
Hey, thanks for this. Although I have this film on DVD, I was thinking of upgrading as Belmondo and Cardinale are particular favorites of mine. I'll have another look at the DVD in the next few days.

I do have the Criterion disc of Lola Montes and was pleased. I also have a Blu-ray disc of La Piscine - Alain Delon is another favorite - but I don't recall that being too yellow. I watch that again too.
 

lark144

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Hey, thanks for this. Although I have this film on DVD, I was thinking of upgrading as Belmondo and Cardinale are particular favorites of mine. I'll have another look at the DVD in the next few days.

I do have the Criterion disc of Lola Montes and was pleased. I also have a Blu-ray disc of La Piscine - Alain Delon is another favorite - but I don't recall that being too yellow. I watch that again too.
I did want people to know. A lot of it has to do with one's own experience of these films and also one's expectations, but I found the yellow in this master especially egregious, and difficult to watch. It also reallly irritates me that someone in the name of "cinematic retroval" is changing the color tonalities of these classic color films. Most of these films had the most exqusite blues and now, everything is yellow and latrine green. I don't have "La Piscine" but was basing this on Dr. Svet's review. If it looks good to you, maybe I'll get it, though again, what I found most attractive is the photography, all that glorious blue, and if that blue veers towards yellow and ochre, I don't know if I'd want to watch it. Another problem with all that yellow is it flatens things out, so even though the 4K has wonderful resolution, the color changes makes things less resolved. Basically, it's a mystery to me why anyone with any sense of admiration and love towards the cinematic treasures of the past would want to do this.
 

Worth

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...I also have a Blu-ray disc of La Piscine - Alain Delon is another favorite - but I don't recall that being too yellow. I watch that again too.
The new, yellow master applies to the Criterion disc, which won't be released until July 20th. Any earlier discs would be based on an older master.
 

bujaki

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I saw this when it came out. The color cinematography was really beautiful. Not anymore. I got the Blu-Ray yesterday. This is possibly the most atrocious, most reprehensible, not to mention obnoxious, use of yellow by L'immagine Ritrovata I have ever seen. It completely destroys the depth of field and makes every actor look aged and icky. The skin tones are awful. Especially Jean-Paul Belmondo. It seems like he's in his 80's and suffering from jaundice, in spite of all that jumping around. I thought, how can he be enegetic when he appears to be dying? All the costumes and sets, which used to have dazzling primaries, especially a bounty of blue and red, now appear to be stuck in amber. I love this film, but I had difficulty watching it. Apparently someone at Bologna decided that since it's a period piece, the color should have the aspect of aged parchment. But that isn't how this film looked upon first release. It was crisp and clear and incredibly three dimensional. It appeared you could walk right into the screen and take part in what was going on. If any of you have seen "Lola Montes" which was photographed by the same cinematographer, Christian Matras, that's what this film looked like. Lovely primaries, and especially a limpid, almost transparent blue. The skies seem to stretch outward into infinity. Now those blue skies are deep yellow, and flat. And because of the extreme yellow bias, even though it's 4K and the image quality is healthy, everything looks fuzzy & electronic. Not film. After watching this unholy mess, the only appropriate statement I can think of is what Belmondo says to Jean Seberg at the end of "Breathless", "Vous êtes vraiment dégueulasse!" Another milestone of French Eastmancolor cinematography destroyed by the folks at L'immagine Ritrovata. I don't know why I bother to buy these things anymore. And I understand "La Piscine" looks the same. Rancid yellow.
Merde! L'immagine Ritrovata emmerde tous--ou presque tous--leur projets.
 

Trancas

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La Vie en Pissoir alla Ritrovatanese
large_03_cartouche_blu-ray.jpeg


After you've drained off some of the piss

large_03_cartouche_blu-ray4.jpg
 

usrunnr

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I just purchased this on Amazon. It has no English Track. It's in French with subtitles. For some reason I thought it had both English and French options.
 
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t1g3r5fan

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I just purchased this on Amazon. It has no English Track. It's in French with subtitles. For some reason I thought it had both English and French options.

You're correct; I realized my mistake and amended it, however the system me and my fellow reviewers here at HTF doesn't have the selection for "French DTS-HD MA 2.0", which is what this disc has. So it's listed as "Other" for now, and I'll alert the mods about this.