At a riverside cafe in Belle Epoque France, gangster's moll Marie (Signoret) falls for handsome carpenter Manda (Reggiani), provoking the ire of her boorish beau, pretty boy Roland (William Sabatier). After Manda kills Roland in a knife duel, the lovers escape to the countryside. But gang kingpin Felix Leca (Claude Dauphin), who covets Marie for his own, isn't about to let the happy lovebirds nest in peace.
A luminous story of doomed romance by the gifted French director Jacques Becker, "Casque D'Or" is sensuous and stimulating, like love itself. Resplendent in period dresses and haloed by Robert Le Febvre's gorgeous black-and-white photography, Signoret slinks into the role of Marie with effortless insouciance, while Reggiani's Manda is laconic and resolute about what he wants: Marie. Raymond Bussières chews on a key role (as Manda's loyal friend Raymond), as does the impeccable Dauphin, an actor better known for playing upright citizens. Based on real events, "Casque D'Or" is a lithesome masterpiece of mid-century French cinema.