Satisfying, well-written noir with a number of themes
Author: msroz from United States
1 October 2017
"Lucky Jo" (1964) is a very well-done late noir. The story is original, complex and tight. It's done in a serious way with a bittersweet atmosphere throughout, a feeling of regret, melancholy and of loneliness amid partners in crime whose lives have moved on and left the protagonist (Eddie Constantine) behind while he was in prison. I felt that in this film Eddie Constantine showed he could act, and it's the best I've seen him.
The opening shows the irony of the title. Jo has a string of bad luck in his burglaries with others, resulting in prison sentences and their regret, because they are friends, that they no longer will work with him. During the story, the police come to think that he's lucky, further irony. Actually, his bad luck continues, as a car that he has borrowed is stolen and used in a holdup, thereby entangling him in a hectic series of events.
Pierre Lesou wrote the source material as a book, and his work was also the basis for the terrific "Le Doulos" (1963) and the good "The Cop" (1970).
The Paris atmosphere of that period is great. This contributes to any film that utilizes it well, as is done here.
I like the interactions that Jo had with women in this film. There are three main ones. He meets with a former girl friend, Mimi. He meets with the wife of a friend-in-crime of his named Simon (Georges Wilson); and he meets with an anonymous girl at a bar who is being pestered by some guy. The dialog in all cases is grown-up and pleasantly elliptical, affording Constantine the opportunities to show his emotional side. These meetings reminded me of some scenes from Jean Gabin movies.
As I was expecting some sort of Lemmy Caution vehicle or replica thereof, this movie came as a very nice surprise.