For fans of American gangster films, Jacque Becker's TOUCHEZ PAS AU GRISBI may seem like a radical departure from the violence and excess of films like THE GODFATHER and GOODFELLAS. It's a quiet film about quiet men, living out their golden years in a dignified manner. Much of the film is spent watching Max (Jean Gabin) as he dines with friends, cavorts with his mistresses and listens to his favorite tune on his old record player. The amazing thing about the film is that there's never any question that Max can be a dangerous man. There's a famous scene where Max and his long-time partner Riton (Rene Dary) eat pate, set up their sleeping quarters, dress in their pajamas and go to sleep without exchanging a word. There's an amazing, soft tension playing through this entire scene. Riton has screwed up a business deal, as he has done many times in the past, and Max is getting fed up. I was reminded throughout this scene of the famous line from GOODFELLAS about assassins coming as friends. This certainly would have been the right time for Max to whack Riton, if that were what he wanted. But he doesn't, because honor and loyalty are important aspects of Max's life, and he will protect his friend even though their big retirement job may be jeopardized. Max is, quite simply, the least Americanized gangster in film history, and he's a remarkable character. Jean Gabin solidifies his reputation as the greatest French film actor of all time through subtlety, nuance, and natural charisma. The film itself is painted with the rich black-and-white brush strokes of the best film noir, and truly succeeds in transporting the viewer to another place and time. A genuine, under-appreciated masterpiece.