Cinema: Bug Study

Cloportes is French for lice—and slang for the killers, con men, pimps, prostitutes and safecrackers of the Paris underworld. The movie begins with a comically bumbled robbery, and continues on the strength of its fallout. A rough-hewn racketeer (Lino Ventura) goes to prison for the job, hating himself almost as much as he hates the doublecrossing colleagues who have ruined his pursuit of beaux-arts — to lease a blowtorch for the caper, he was forced to sell one of his stolen Braques. His time served, the former art collector returns to Paris and starts turning over rocks, bent on vengeance.

At worst,...

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