THE WORLD’S MOST BEAUTIFUL SWINDLERS Are Reunited by Olive Films [Blu-review]

The World’s Most Beautiful Swindlers, aka Les plus Belles Escroqueries Du Monde in its native French. An anthology film that somehow I’d never heard of. One that drew together the talents of Claude Chabrol (Le Boucher, Madame Bovary), Jean-Luc Godard (Breathless, Band of Outsiders), Hiromichi Horikawa (Kuroi gashu: Aru Sarariman No Shogen), Ugo Gregoretti (Ro.Go.Pa.G., Le Belle Famiglie, Omicron), and Roman Polanski (Chinatown, Rosemary’s Baby).

Each was tasked with crafting their own segment of the film, the unifying theme, con-artists. These stalwarts of American, French, Italian and Japanese cinema tell their own tale of a swindler working a job in a different city around the world.

Les Cinq Bienfaiteurs de Fumiko (Horikawa)

Set in Tokyo, a man walks into a bar an begins flaunting his wealth, telling tall tales about his success. A young waitress sees an opportunity and offers to leave the bar with him…

La Feuille du Route (Gregoretti)

A prostitute in Naples is caught by the authorities, and after release is banned from the city. She seeks help from an enamored young client who supports her and starts to work on a scheme to solve her problems. Siphoning funds from charities is the beginning, but to solve her residency issue, he finds that marrying her to a local, would allow her to reside int he city once again. An elderly gentleman in a local hospice becomes a prime target.

L’Homme qui vendit la Tour Eiffel (Chabrol)

In Paris, a con-artist works a wealthy German in a long-con and leaves him believing he is helping organize an auction, one where the German may be able to buy the Eiffel tower at a very good price.

Le Grand Escroc (Godard)

In Marrakech, an American journalist is arrested after being found in possession of fake currency. Questioned and eventually released, she uses her skills to track down the person responsible for her incarceration.

Release Note:

NOTE: The Amsterdam segment, La Riviere De Diamants/A River of Diamonds (directed by Roman Polanski), which was featured in original theatrical release of The World’s Most Beautiful Swindlers, has been removed from presentations of the film at the request of the director.

** I’m personally in the dark on why Polanski pulled his segment, sound off in the comments if you know anything!

The anthology film is often a perilous venture, a weak entry can stick in the mind of throw the whole pace off. The World’s Most Beautiful Swindlers, despite all the talent involved represents what you normally get with this kind of film, an uneven experience. The Tokyo segment is a highlight, each has some moments of wit, intrigue, or smarts, but some seem a little more far fetched than others, or base their predicaments/schemes in a less grounded way.

Despite this, the skills of those involved is evident, and not just in terms of direction. The segments look great, unsurprising given the involvement of cinematographers Raoul Coutard (Breathless), Tonino Delli Colli (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly), Asakazu Nakai (Ran) and Jean Rabier (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg). There’s also notable actors such as Catherine Deneuve, Jean Seberg, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Francis Blanche, Laszlo Szabo, and Ken Mitsuda. There are highs and lows through the anthology, but it’s never anything less than interesting.

The Package

Compared to the few images available online, this release shows a marked step-up in image quality. The picture quality is clear, with no major defect or issues present. Contrast is good, shown off with with the black and white presentation. Grain is evident, in some bright scenes it looks little more processed/hazy, but in general is good.

No special features are included.

The Bottom Line

Like most anthology series, there are weaker segments among the more impressive, but the core of talent involved makes The World’s Most Beautiful Swindlers a consistently engaging watch. One that it’s a delight to see brought to Blu-ray by Olive Films.

The World’s Most Beautiful Swindlers is available from Olive Films now.

Get it at Amazon:
[Blu-ray] | [DVD]

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