La Bonne Annee


1h 55m 1973

Brief Synopsis

Released from prison apparently under a New Year amnesty, a criminal tries to pick up the threads of a life changed not only by his daring plan to rob a jewellers in out-of-season Cannes but by someone special he met there.

Film Details

Also Known As
Good Year, The, Happy New Year, bonne année
MPAA Rating
Release Date
1973
Location
France

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 55m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Eastmancolor)

Synopsis

A jewel thief, released from prison, reunites with his mistress and his former accomplice.

Film Details

Also Known As
Good Year, The, Happy New Year, bonne année
MPAA Rating
Release Date
1973
Location
France

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 55m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Eastmancolor)

Articles

Happy New Year


From the time his feature-making career hit its stride in the '60s, French filmmaker Claude Lelouch has been largely identified with the slickly-rendered, soft-focus romances so prevalent in the period. In La Bonne annee (Happy New Year) (1973), recently released to DVD by Image Entertainment, the director demonstrated that he could successfully wed such material to another one of his favorite thematic playgrounds, the crime story.

The film opens in a Parisian prison on New Year's Eve, 1972, where the jewel thief Simon (Lino Ventura) receives an unexpected compassionate parole. The gendarmes' motivation for his release is actually less than altruistic; the proceeds from the heist which resulted in Simon's capture have not surfaced in the six years since, and the authorities hope that he will make a beeline for his unknown accomplice and the loot.

The narrative flashes back to 1966 (and changes film stock to black and white to color), as Simon and his partner Charlot (Charles Gerard) begin to lay out the fateful job, which targeted a small but bountiful jewelry store in Cannes. At the core of Simon's weeks-long scheme is an effort to ingratiate himself with the store's manager (Andre Falcon). To do so, he dons an elaborate age makeup and poses as an eccentric octogenarian who begins to frequent the establishment, buying increasingly expensive trinkets to bring to a "dying sister in Nice".

While casing the store, Simon find himself increasingly distracted by the neighboring antique shop, or more specifically, its attractive proprietress Francoise (Francoise Fabian). After eavesdropping on her efforts to wrangle a coveted Louis XVI table from another local merchant, he shows up on her doorstep with the piece. Simon finds himself getting in deeper as he gets to know the outspoken, intelligent, liberated businesswoman. For her part, Francois knows that something isn't wholly kosher about this anti-intellectual "ice cream salesman," but soon can't help reciprocating in kind. The balance of the film follows the two as they deal with the fallout from the robbery, as well as that from Simon's present-day parole.

There's a school of thought that Lelouch has spent his career since crafting A Man and a Woman (1966) trying to recapture that same lightning in a bottle, and the director provided plenty of self-referential ammo in La Bonne annee to back such sentiments up. La Bonne annee's opening titles play over the closing montage and Francis Lai score of the Anouk Aimee/Jean-Louis Trintignant romance, only to have it revealed as the prison movie shown the day of Simon's release. (Lelouch made it palatable with a self-deflating bit of business during the Christmas Eve dinner sequence with Francoise's highbrow friends, where one deemed A Man and a Woman strictly for those who "like windshield wipers and tranquilizers".)

Still, any cinema love story rises or falls on the credibility and chemistry of its leads, and Ventura and Fabian don't disappoint. Lelouch had worked with Ventura (as well as Gerard and Falcon) in his prior project, the political satire-laced caper flick L'Aventure, c'est l'aventure (1972). The craggy ex-wrestler, most familiar to American audiences in tough-guy roles such as The Valachi Papers (1972), commands the viewer's sympathies as a smitten mug so certain that he's out of his league, and the radiant Fabian makes a perfectly understandable object of fascination. Between the crispness of the narrative regarding the heist, and Ventura's amusing interplay with Gerard and comical efforts as the crotchety "customer," La Bonne annee remains a worthwhile lark.

John G. Avildsen directed a little-seen American remake of the story released in 1987 that featured Peter Falk and Wendy Hughes as the leads, Charles Durning and Tom Courtenay in the Gerard and Falcon roles, and a walk-on by Lelouch. Image's mastering effort on the print is commendable, but the dearth of extras is a letdown.

For more information about La Bonne Annee,, visit Image Entertainment. To order La Bonne Annee, go to TCM Shopping.

by Jay S. Steinberg
Happy New Year

Happy New Year

From the time his feature-making career hit its stride in the '60s, French filmmaker Claude Lelouch has been largely identified with the slickly-rendered, soft-focus romances so prevalent in the period. In La Bonne annee (Happy New Year) (1973), recently released to DVD by Image Entertainment, the director demonstrated that he could successfully wed such material to another one of his favorite thematic playgrounds, the crime story. The film opens in a Parisian prison on New Year's Eve, 1972, where the jewel thief Simon (Lino Ventura) receives an unexpected compassionate parole. The gendarmes' motivation for his release is actually less than altruistic; the proceeds from the heist which resulted in Simon's capture have not surfaced in the six years since, and the authorities hope that he will make a beeline for his unknown accomplice and the loot. The narrative flashes back to 1966 (and changes film stock to black and white to color), as Simon and his partner Charlot (Charles Gerard) begin to lay out the fateful job, which targeted a small but bountiful jewelry store in Cannes. At the core of Simon's weeks-long scheme is an effort to ingratiate himself with the store's manager (Andre Falcon). To do so, he dons an elaborate age makeup and poses as an eccentric octogenarian who begins to frequent the establishment, buying increasingly expensive trinkets to bring to a "dying sister in Nice". While casing the store, Simon find himself increasingly distracted by the neighboring antique shop, or more specifically, its attractive proprietress Francoise (Francoise Fabian). After eavesdropping on her efforts to wrangle a coveted Louis XVI table from another local merchant, he shows up on her doorstep with the piece. Simon finds himself getting in deeper as he gets to know the outspoken, intelligent, liberated businesswoman. For her part, Francois knows that something isn't wholly kosher about this anti-intellectual "ice cream salesman," but soon can't help reciprocating in kind. The balance of the film follows the two as they deal with the fallout from the robbery, as well as that from Simon's present-day parole. There's a school of thought that Lelouch has spent his career since crafting A Man and a Woman (1966) trying to recapture that same lightning in a bottle, and the director provided plenty of self-referential ammo in La Bonne annee to back such sentiments up. La Bonne annee's opening titles play over the closing montage and Francis Lai score of the Anouk Aimee/Jean-Louis Trintignant romance, only to have it revealed as the prison movie shown the day of Simon's release. (Lelouch made it palatable with a self-deflating bit of business during the Christmas Eve dinner sequence with Francoise's highbrow friends, where one deemed A Man and a Woman strictly for those who "like windshield wipers and tranquilizers".) Still, any cinema love story rises or falls on the credibility and chemistry of its leads, and Ventura and Fabian don't disappoint. Lelouch had worked with Ventura (as well as Gerard and Falcon) in his prior project, the political satire-laced caper flick L'Aventure, c'est l'aventure (1972). The craggy ex-wrestler, most familiar to American audiences in tough-guy roles such as The Valachi Papers (1972), commands the viewer's sympathies as a smitten mug so certain that he's out of his league, and the radiant Fabian makes a perfectly understandable object of fascination. Between the crispness of the narrative regarding the heist, and Ventura's amusing interplay with Gerard and comical efforts as the crotchety "customer," La Bonne annee remains a worthwhile lark. John G. Avildsen directed a little-seen American remake of the story released in 1987 that featured Peter Falk and Wendy Hughes as the leads, Charles Durning and Tom Courtenay in the Gerard and Falcon roles, and a walk-on by Lelouch. Image's mastering effort on the print is commendable, but the dearth of extras is a letdown. For more information about La Bonne Annee,, visit Image Entertainment. To order La Bonne Annee, go to TCM Shopping. by Jay S. Steinberg

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1973

Released in United States on Video January 1986

Remade as "Happy New Year" (1987) directed by John Avildsen.

Released in United States 1973

Released in United States on Video January 1986