Casque D’Or (1952)

Casque D’Or (1952)

“I always think about you.”

In turn-of-the-century France, when the moll (Simone Signoret) of a gangster (Claude Dauphin) leaves her current boyfriend Roland (William Sabatier) for an ex-con named Manda (Serge Reggiani), Roland and Manda duel for her hand — but even once this is settled with finality, Dauphin has further plans up his sleeve.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Ex-Cons
  • French Films
  • Gangsters
  • Historical Drama
  • Love Triangle
  • Simone Signoret Films
  • Star-Crossed Lovers

French director Jacques Becker is best known for three of the thirteen feature-length films he made between 1942 and 1960: Le Trou (1960), Touchez Pas Au Grisbi (1954), and this film, Casque D’Or — the only one of these titles listed in Peary’s GFTFF. While it wasn’t particularly well received in France upon its release, French New Wave directors embraced Casque D’Or, and Signoret won a BFA award for her performance. The movie tells a simple but atmospherically filmed tale of doomed lovers who fall for one another at first sight (with Signoret the most insistent and brazen), ultimately meeting a tragic end — but not without a sweet interlude of erotic bliss in the countryside thrown in:

The two scenes of explicit violence are handled efficiently and effectively:

… providing a good sense of what’s at stake for these lovers caught up in a world of gang-fueled dominance and retribution. Signoret gives a heartfelt performance:

… and Reggiani is appropriately stoic as a man hoping to simply live his life, but unwilling to back down from bullies.

Note: The film’s title translates into “helmet of gold,” and is meant to represent Signoret’s beautiful blonde “helmet” of hair.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

Must See?
Yes, once, simply for its relevance as Becker’s acknowledged masterpiece, and for Signoret’s performance. Listed as a film with Historical Importance in the back of Peary’s book.


  • Historically Relevant
  • Important Director


One thought on “Casque D’Or (1952)

  1. First viewing (1/3/21). A once-must, largely for Signoret’s performance. As per my post in ‘The ’40s-’50s in Film’ (fb):

    “What?, our Marie weeping over a man?”

    ‘Casque d’Or’ (1952): Viva l’amour, even when it’s tragic – or, especially when it’s tragic? But then, what else can be expected when the passion involves two gang leaders and a prostitute? Jacques Becker’s tale of a love triangle is based on a real scandal that took place around 1900 (during La Belle Époque). However, among other things, the film version changes one of the gang leaders to a carpenter (Serge Reggiani). The other remains as an underworld thug (Claude Dauphin) – and the woman between is Simone Signoret… who, for this performance, was awarded Best Actress at BAFTA (which, at least in part, led to capturing what would become her multi-award-winning role in ‘Room at the Top’).

    The title refers to Signoret’s character’s ‘helmet’ of ‘golden’ hair.

    Though initially the film was not that successful in France, it became more of a sensation in other parts of Europe, causing a later reassessment in its own country. This isn’t really the kind of film that you watch for its story – it’s not all that complicated. On the other hand, it’s extremely atmospheric, impeccably designed, and admirably acted and directed. The final sequences are quite nicely handled. It’s also easy to see how Signoret would gain considerable notice. She has undeniable presence.

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