A group of aspiring young thugs from Marseilles move in on established gangsters. They spend the time torturing, killing and intimidating the gangsters until they either pay up or die. One punk with a sexual attraction for his sister is turned in by the girl after a degrading sex scene. The newcomers shake down bars and bistros in their efforts to become part of the violent and brutal criminal underworld.
Joe Caligula" was reportedly forbidden by the censorship at the same time as Jacques Rivette's "la religieuse' ,but not for the same reasons."Joe Caligula" anticipated Quarantino's extreme violence by more than thirty years.That does not make it a good movie for all that,by a long shot.It is actually one of the worst French duds I have ever seen.
The credits go as far as claiming this: If John Ford is Homer (why not after all?the great director compares favorably with the Greek poet) ,then José Bénazéraf is .....(you'll never guess it) Marcel Proust .Well,if it is so,then Ed Wood is Shakespeare .Bénazéraf is known (but only by people who like that kind of stuff) for his porno movies which were to follow in the wake of "Joe" :many scenes of this movie verge on porno anyway: strip tease, nude women in bed ...
Well if Howard Hawks depicted Scarface as some kind of Borgia ,why not Caligula for a young crook?The problem lies in the fact that Joe has absolutely nothing to do with the Roman emperor.Played by the late Gérard Blain,who was a commendable actor when there was a Duvivier,a Chabrol or a Wenders to direct him,but here sank without a trace.Ditto for Ginette Leclerc,who was formerly directed by Pagnol,Clouzot and Duvivier! The rest of the cast is zombie-like ,particularly the female lead Jeanne Valérie .The script is so dismal that the actors often repeat their lines twice ,five times and even more!When the starlet in tears tells the story of her lover (or husband who cares) who was burnt alive (and is still burning,she points out),it is unintentionally highly comic.
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