I had a friend in film school who always said that assembling-the-team montages were his favorite part of movies, from westerns (The Magnificent Seven) to war movies (The Dirty Dozen), and of course classic crime flicks. I think we were discussing The Usual Suspects. For him, those segments were the high point—pure potential—and even though the actual adventure had yet to start, it all went downhill from there. Which is likely literally true of noir.
Maybe I took his words to heart? Because the excerpt I carved out and translated Les Faux Visages (Futuropolis, 2011) is exactly that: putting the gang together. Every crook gets his brief, cutaway bio setting up character and history as the camera pans around the room where they’ve gathered to discuss the next job. All the usual suspects are indeed there: the smooth gangster, the young hoodlum, the safecracker, the munitions man, the cat burglar… and, this being a David B. script, the reference to some great fabulist: in this case, Marcel Schwob. Himself a writer fascinated by violent brigands and their colorful argot, Schwob was a major influence on Borges’ Universal History of Iniquity.
Penned by David B. with art by Hervé Tanquerelle, False Faces is based on the true history of the Wig Gang, audacious Parisian bank robbers who had an unbroken string of successful holdups in the early 80s. Some of them are still at large today.
The excerpt is live in the December issue of Words Without Borders. Check it out!