No dropping-dead-of-shock if Scorsese wins Best Director at the Oscars a week from Sunday ... but if there's anything The Departed was missing, it was romance. Arterial spray from massive head wounds, check. Smiling-cobra gang boss, check. Fatal romance that leads an innocent man into a life of crime .... not on Scorsese's agenda, but Jacques Becker's crime/romance Casque d'Orhas that romantic, fatalistic element like few other movies.
The helmet ("casque") in question is the piled-up blond hair of the lead Simone Signoret, one of the most unusual love objects in the movies. She wasn't delicate, and in fact made Mae West look physically slight. Anyone complaining that all modern actresses are starve-lings need to have a look at this big woman's sensuality. But the title is bound to confuse: Signoret's Marie isn't a helmet-head in the old mid-1980s sense of the slang, back when Washington DC wives had lacquered coiffures that could dull a buzz saw. Certainly, though, Marie does give the sense of a girl whose cold common sense is like a crest and a shield.