Les Grandes Gueles; Big Shots, The

2772. LES GRANDES GUEULES (The Big Shots) (The Wise Guys) (Jailbird’s Vacation) (1965-France-ltaly) COLOR. With LINO VENTURA, BOURVIL. Hector Valentin has just inherited his late father’s isolated and outmoded water-powered sawmill. In fact, the site is not inaccurately described as “ancient” and a “museum piece.” However, Hector has spent his life in the employ of others and is determined to realize his dream of resurrecting the mill and being his own boss. The chance for his success appears to be as slim as a toothpick. The only available workers are at best incompetent, and at worst drunken louts. He is constantly undercut by Therraz, a corrupt and manipulative rival lumberman, “All I need is lumberjacks,” Hector declares. Enter Laurent and Mick, two ex-cons who make Hector a proposal he could not possibly refuse: Hire conditional parolees, “guys who could leave prison early if somebody guaranteed them work and housing.” At first, Hector is skeptical. Perhaps the jailbirds have not been reformed by their time in the slammer. Maybe they are a group of potential troublemakers. Still, Hector realizes that if he does not retain the parolees, he soon will find himself out of business, and so a gang of lusty and likably boisterous ruffians soon arrives on the scene to commence lumberjacking careers. However, Laurent has an ulterior motive for submitting the plan to Hector, and it is one that involves revenge and murder! What follows is a hard-hitting adventure drama crammed with gut-crunching fistflghts and involving assorted rivalries and jealousies. In the end, the film works as a poignant allegory of man’s seemingly futile attempt to tame nature and determine his own course in life. In French with English subtitles. Shadowboxed. 125 minutes. ADventure