The Old Gun (1975)

Philippe Noiret, Romy Schneider, Jean Bouise, Joachim Hansen,
During World War II, a peaceful French surgeon is forced to ruthlessly exterminate the Nazis because of their atrocities.
  • 7.6 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Pascal Jardin, Claude Veillot, Writer:
  • Robert Enrico, Director:
  • Pierre Caro, Producer:


7 / 10

Violent and thought-provoking WWII drama in which a surgeon seeks vengeance against Nazis

Strong War/drama set in France during WWII with marvelous main cast as Philippe Noiret and Romy Schneider . Montauban in 1944, Julien Dandieu (Philippe Noiret) is a doctor in the local hospital. Frightened by the Nazi army coming Montauban, and occupying the little town , he asks his partner Francois (Jean Bouise ) to led his spouse (Romy Schneider) and daughter in the back country villa where Julien owns an old mansion . Some days later, Julien decided to meet then for the weekend, but the Nazis are already taking the village and the castle . He turns into Revenger Angel when his family is attacked by furious Germans (Joachim Hansen , Robert Hoffman ) , as his wife is fired and daughter is shot. Then he stalks the Nazis and takes the law into his own hands, searching vengeance .

This exciting film contains romantic elements , brooding drama ,suspense , intrigue, thrills and lots of violence. Noiret is top-notch in a fully-formed main role as grief-plagued surgeon becoming avenger and he displays efficiently his old rifle killing mercilessly nasties .It's certainly thrilling , though the morality may be questionable , even in this time, as the spectators were clearly on the Noiret-Julien's side . It has a complex pace by means flashbacks in which are narrated the lovely relationship between the amiable surgeon and the attractive Romy Schneider . Colorful cinematography by Becker , being correctly remastered . Enjoyable musical score including a sensible leitmotif is composed and conducted by Francois De Roubaix .The motion picture is stunningly written and directed by by Robert Enrico . He was a good professional who directed interesting films as ¨Jailsbird vacation¨ , ¨Rum Runners¨, ¨The wise guys¨ and his masterpiece ¨The adventurers¨ and of course ¨The old fusil¨ . Rating : 7,5 , better than average. The film will appeal to French cinema lovers

7 / 10

Fighting fire with fire!

On June 10th 1944, less than two weeks before the Normandy landings, almost the entire population of the village of Oradour-sur-Glane was slaughtered by members of a Waffen SS division. That atrocity is not reconstructed here but forms the basis of Robert Enrico's film.

Surgeon Julien Dandieu arrives at the village where he grew up, the castle of which he happens to own, only to find a scene of mass carnage in which his beloved wife and daughter have perished. His unbearable grief soon gives way to a natural, all-consuming hatred for the Nazi perpetrators who have taken over the castle. Taking advantage of his intimate knowledge of the castle with all its hidden passages and armed only with a double-barrelled shotgun used for hunting wild boar, he sets about stalking his human prey and exacting retribution. The method by which he disposes of the highest ranking SS officer is highly appropriate!

Suffice to say this is a grim, harrowing and violent film, at times graphically so but has great tension, momentum and first class editing.

It is in effect an early 'vigilante' movie but is well balanced by being a love story also. The use of flashbacks to show the domestic bliss of Dandieu, his wife Clara and their daughter is dramatically very effective.

As Clara the wondrous Romy Schneider once again touches the heartstrings.

The film proved extremely popular with French audiences who had never seen anything like it before. Despite its merits I am not certain that it deserved to win the César for Best Picture although its emotive subject matter no doubt helped and the competition that year was not that stiff. I also found the jaunty title music of Francois de Roubaix rather incongruous but can only assume this was the director's intention(?) Pleased to say that the superlative Philippe Noiret was awarded the first of his two Césars and a Donatello for his riveting performance as Dandieu. Also of note are Jean Bouise giving his customary understated performance as a family friend and the excellent Joachim Hansen who has succeeded in making the SS officer more than just a one-dimensional nasty Nazi.

This piece, which established Enrico as a director, mixes the genres of war, action, romance and it must be said, exploitation.

We must not lose track of the horrific historical event that inspired the film which acts as a distressing reminder of the barbaric cruelty to which humans can sink.

6 / 10

To paraphrase Chekhov

To paraphrase Chekhov's "One must never place a loaded rifle on the stage if it isn't going to go off (as) it's wrong to make promises you don't mean to keep", one should never hide an old gun if it isn't going to be used with purpose in the second half of the movie.

9 / 10

Love and fury in French

One of my favorite childhood French films, which with great success was in the 70's in the Soviet box office. It's hard to say exactly what this film is about - about love, about war or about revenge. As it seems to me, this film from the category of stylish and very thin.

"In a conversation with a Frenchman, never touch upon the theme of the Second World War and, especially, the fascist occupation," - because we are taught by the French experts.

It is known that almost every Frenchman lives with the awareness of his national exclusiveness. This feeling was brought up for many centuries. Therefore, to shoot a French movie about the events that are associated with the defeat and surrender without a fight of entire cities is a very delicate matter for the filmmaker.

Probably, I will leave not far from the truth, if I assume that the French were waiting for such a film. They were waiting to again justify themselves (first of all, before themselves), once again skillfully revenge, and prove that even during the years of occupation they remained real Frenchmen - the cleverest, the strongest and able to truly love.

On the other hand, the authors of the film needed to withstand a certain political correctness and, if possible, not to abuse the demonstration of the cruelty of the German invaders. The fact is that during the filming of the film, two-year talks ended in Europe, concluding with the signing in 1975 of the Final Helsinki Act (the birth of the OSCE). In fact, this meant a great European truce and the beginning of a new life together. And during the truce, it is known what happens to the eye of someone who remembers the old ...

All this complicated the task of director Robert Enrico, but he masterfully operated with all the film tools, coped with it "perfectly", although in an ordinary French manner in a florid manner.

One of the director's finds is the combination of flashbacks, that is, the memories of surgeon Julien about pre-war life, his acquaintance and love with Clara, and the real situation where the Nazis have already occupied his country, and the doctor's hands have to take up his gun. At the same time, transitions to flashbacks do not create an acute contrast, and the romantic soundtrack of the composer Francois de Rubé helps the protagonist to swim in the waves of his memory. These memories, as it were, zombie Julien so that his revenge is not troublesome, filled with confident and prudent actions. It is much more interesting to observe the revenge when it is performed by an ordinary person. It excites and makes the viewer to empathize.

Another director's luck is the successful selection of actors. Philip Noiret and Romy Schneider seem to be created for each other, a great duo. Frames flashbacks are covered with a light haze and this only emphasizes the grace and beauty of Romy Schneider.

In 1976, the film was awarded the CESAR award immediately by categories: Best film (Robert Enrico), Best actor (Philip Noiret), Best music (Francois De Rube) and more ... Thanks to the viewers of different countries.

10 / 10


> This is where we may wonder why it has taken so much to rouse this peaceful man;

Everybody has his own threshold of awakening; and this film is actually the story of awakening - this is why the whole first part showing his peaceful life, even during the war, up until he is led to his threshold, and so the contrast between that and merciful killer that he becomes, becomes even more powerful.

> The next question we find ourselves asking is why he is content to go up against men armed with pistols, rifles,machine guns, grenades and flame-throwers with only a shotgun rather than picking off one man and appropriating his weaponry.

The best weapon is the weapon you are used to, the weapon you trust. Plus, this old gun together with the old castle and their old owner, become one collective weapon against the invaders. Not wise to take one piece out.