The Cheat (Le roman d'un tricheur) (1936)
Time Out says
This film ranked #57 in Time Out's list of the 100 greatest French films. Click here to see the full list.
Director: Sacha Guitry
At age 12, our hero is sent to bed supper-less for stealing eight sous. When he wakes up his entire family is dead from food poisoning, leading him to conclude that dishonesty and survival are intimately linked. We follow his subsequent career as thief and card sharp (Guitry demonstrates a few tricks for us). The peculiarity of the narrative is that it forgoes dialogue in favour of a non-stop commentary by the author. This allows Guitry to pack the soundtrack with elegant witticisms, though rather leaving the actors stranded on occasion. But it's quite unique, with the hero's ruthlessness paralleled by Guitry's own in never letting anyone else get a look in. Borchard's tiresome score is the only really dated element.