Cast & Crew
Fortune hunter Hector Valentin returns to the Vosges Mountains from Canada to take possession of an antiquated, water-powered sawmill left him by his father. Two of his employees, ex-convicts Laurent and Mick, suggest that Hector, who is having difficulty finding a work crew, employ other paroled prisoners and thus survive the powerful competition of his corrupt rival, Therraz. Laurent's true purpose in suggesting the plan is to facilitate the murder of Rechtman, the convict responsible for sending him to jail; but Rechtman is not among the first 10 men sent from the jail. Meanwhile, Laurent has fallen in love with a villager, Jackie, and Mick has been reunited with his beautiful wife, Christiane, who asks him to return with her to Paris. Mick realizes the sincerity of the convicts' desire to succeed, however; and he stays on to help them combat Therraz. The rival crews brawl at a fair, and Mick is killed. Laurent, disillusioned, leaves the camp, unaware that prison officials have decided to revoke the men's conditional freedom. As the truckful of prisoners passes him on the road, Laurent realizes that Hector is now all alone and rushes back, arriving just in time to save the life of his despondent ex-employer, who has set fire to the mill. Though the mill is destroyed, the two men set out together for Italy and a fresh start in life.
François De Roubaix
Lionel De Souza
Paris opening: October 1965 as Les grandes gueules; running time: 130 min. Also reviewed as The Wise Guys.