Casque d'Or

Casque d'Or ("Golden Helmet") is a 1952 French film directed by Jacques Becker. It is a Belle Époque tragedy, the story of an ill-fated love affair between characters played by Simone Signoret and Serge Reggiani. The story was loosely based on an infamous love triangle between the prostitute Amélie Élie and the Apache gang leaders Manda and Leca, which was the subject of much sensational newspaper reporting during 1902.[1]

Casque d'Or
French theatrical release poster
Directed byJacques Becker
Produced byRaymond Hakim
Robert Hakim
Written byJacques Becker
Jacques Companéez
StarringSimone Signoret
Serge Reggiani
Claude Dauphin
Music byGeorges Van Parys
CinematographyRobert Le Febvre
Edited byMarguerite Renoir
Release date
  • 16 April 1952 (1952-04-16)
Running time
94 minutes


Marie (Simone Signoret), a woman of considerable beauty, is distressed at her treatment by Roland, a criminal who is a part of a local syndicate. When Marie is introduced to the handsome stranger Georges, a humble carpenter, she instantly falls in love with him, much to the chagrin of Roland. When Roland's jealousy builds after a number of meetings between Marie and Georges, Roland decides to confront Georges behind a club where several members of his syndicate watch. After Georges gains control of a knife that had been thrown between them to initiate the fight, Georges manages to stab Roland in the back after a brief scuffle, killing him almost instantly. When the police arrive at the scene, everyone flees, including Marie, who seeks refuge away from the syndicate at a nearby village.

Georges decides it is best to flee town. He is lured to a rendezvous with Marie by a note she sends. The two live an idyllic life in the nearby village until Georges is brought word that a friend, Raymond, had been arrested for the murder of Roland. Félix, the leader of the syndicate, has placed blame on Raymond in an attempt to bring Georges out of hiding and win control of Marie. Not realising this plan, Georges confesses to the police that he is the real killer. While being transported between jails, he breaks free with the help of a diversion by Marie. Georges immediately seeks Félix to get revenge. When he finds him in the presence of the police, he kills him anyway, condemning himself in the process. With the two murders on his hands, Georges is sentenced to die by the guillotine while a broken Marie watches in horror as he is executed.


Final scene

The film's final sequence is famous. After Manda's surrender to the police, the film shows Marie arriving at night, with one of Leca's ex-henchmen, at a cheap inn in the city, where she rents a room. The filmmakers provide no immediate clues for the audience as to why this is happening. Only later is it revealed that the room in which she is staying overlooks the courtyard in which her lover, Manda, is to be executed. British film critic Roy Armes wrote: "Becker shows all the hurried ugliness and squalor that surrounds the guillotine, so that we feel this execution to be an affront to humanity."[2]

French New Wave director François Truffaut, who was a fervent admirer of the film's director, Jacques Becker, particularly praised this scene. He wrote: "If you're at all interested in how stories are constructed, you cannot fail to admire the ingenuity of the plot, particularly the strong, oblique, unexpected way it gets abruptly to Manda's execution in a scene that is as beautiful as it is mysterious, as the Casque d'Or [Marie] arrives in the middle of the night at a disreputable hotel. When I or any of my fellow scenarists are in trouble, we often say to each other, 'How about a Casque d'Or solution?'"[3]


The Lexikon des Internationalen Films (Lexicon of International Film) wrote: “With Goldhelm, Jacques Becker has made the most stylistically clear and filmically convincing film about belle époque. The drawing of the shady milieu, the deeply human interpretation of the love relationship between Manda and Marie - that is fascinatingly dramatised and convinced not least by the excellent actors Simone Signoret and Serge Reggiani. Becker proves to be a master of character representation in mastering a poetic realism that only a few directors of this time succeeded in doing.”[4]

The Das große Personenlexikon des Films {Great lexicon of film persons) found: "His milieu portrait from the turn of the century, the clearly structured story about a gangster rivalry, is considered Becker's masterpiece".[5]

Reclams Filmführer heißt (Reclam's film guide) says: "Becker was not interested in making a "historical gangster film"; he created a very unusual film about the "belle époque", in which people are more important than events, feelings more real than criminal involvement. A film of unusual beauty, strict will to style, clear dramaturgy - probably Becker's masterpiece.”[6]

Buchers Enzyklopädie des Films (Bucher's encyclopedia of film} reads: “Becker gives a masterly account of Paris at the turn of the century, both in the set-up and in the drawing of the characters. Despite the bleak plot, the film has a life-affirming trait, especially in the exterior shots, which is primarily due to the strong charisma of Simone Signoret in the leading role."[7]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 100% based on 12 reviews, with a weighted average rating of 8.5/10.[8]

Cultural references

In Don Winslow's novel Satori, the main female character Solange Picard watches Casque d'Or over and over in a cinema in Saigon and cries at the end of it each time.

Proposed remake

In 1965, MGM announced it would make a musical remake of the film produced by Jacques Bar, directed by Julien Duvivier and starring Ann-Margret.[9]


  1. "Casque d'or". Retrieved 2014-02-18.
  2. Armes, Roy (1985). French Cinema. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 151. ISBN 0195204727.
  3. Truffaut, François (1985). The Films in My Life (PDF). New York: Touchstone (Simon & Schuster). pp. 177–178. ISBN 0671246631. Retrieved 2017-08-25.
  4. Brüne, Klaus, ed. (1987). Das Lexikon des Internationalen Films. p. 1376.
  5. Weniger, Kay (2001). Das grosse Personenlexikon des Films : die Schauspieler, Regisseure, Kameraleute, Produzenten, Komponisten, Drehbuchautoren, Filmarchitekten, Ausstatter, Kostümbildner, Cutter, Tontechniker, Maskenbildner und Special Effects Designer des 20. Jahrhunderts. Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf. p. 297. ISBN 3-89602-340-3.
  6. Krusche, Dieter, ed. (1973). Reclams Filmführer. Jürgen Labenski. p. 253.
  7. Buchers Enzyklopädie des Films. CJ Bucher. 1977. p. 124.
  8. "Casque d'Or (1952) - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  9. Teamwork On The Seine By A.H. WEILER. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 31 Jan 1965: X9.
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