Dominique is a gifted thief. Appalled by the unfair and tyrannical behavior of the dreadful Malichot, the thieves’ ringleader, Dominique dares to stand up to him. The only way he manages to escape his wrath is by enlisting in the army, under the name of Cartouche. Here he falls in with two colorful characters, la Taupe (‘the Mole’) and la Douceur (‘Gentleness’). But the hazards of military life don’t suit the three new friends, who desert the army, taking with them the bags of gold intended for the regiment’s salary.
After freeing a young bohemian, Vénus, who was being held captive by gendarmes, they head to Malichot’s den where Dominique easily ousts him, sharing his bounty among the outlaws, who immediately accept him as their new leader. From now on, the highwaymen will only attack the rich: wealthy homes are robbed, churches are pillaged, grain stores are sacked, royal tithes are looted, etc., each act being signed with a ‘C’.
There is much commotion among Gaston de Ferrussac’s men, heightened by the fact that Cartouche is a very popular figure, constantly evading the forces of the law. The daring outlaw is captivated by his enemy’s wife, Isabelle de Ferrussac, and determines to seduce her. He neglects Vénus, virtually abandons his band of highwaymen, and carries out even more attacks, not for any bounty but to impress the object of his desire.
He and Isabelle arrange to meet in an isolated spot, but the lieutenant’s men capture him at the meeting place, having been tipped off by Isabelle’s companion. Then the large escort taking Dominique away is attacked by the outlaws, led by Vénus. The attack is successful, but its bohemian leader is killed.
At the Ferrussacs’ home, a party is in full swing, with all the local nobles celebrating the bandit’s capture. Dominique bursts in, leading his band of highwaymen, and carrying Vénus’ inert body. He covers her with jewels taken from the guests, and places her body in a carriage, which he sinks into a lake. Then he and his men disappear into the night, to meet with the executioner…
Production: les films Ariane – Filmsonor – Mondex film (Paris) – Vidès (Rome).
Producers: Alexandre Mnouchkine, Georges Dancigers.
Line producer: Georges Dancigers.
Screenplay: Daniel Boulanger, Philippe de Broca avec la collaboration de Charles Spaak.
Script: Daniel Boulanger.
Director of photography: Christian Matras (DyaliScope – Eastmancolor).
Cameraman: André Domage.
Editing: Laurence Méry assisted by Raymonde Guyot.
Music: Georges Delerue.
Sound technician: Jean Rieul assisted by Marcel Corvaisier and Fernand Janisse.
Sets: François de Lamothe assisted by René Calviera and Frédéric de Puy.
Set decorator: Robert Christides.
Props: Raymond Lemoigne, Henri Berger.
Costumes : Rosine Delamare.
Costume designer: Georgette Fillon.
Make-up: Marcel Bordenave.
Hairdresser: Huguette Lalaurette.
Stage manager: Éric Geiger.
Assistant director: Georges Pellegrin, Joseph Drimal, Jean-Claude Giuliani, Eduardo Fiori.
Script supervisor: Andrée François.
Press agent: Georges Cravenne.
Photographie : Raymond Voinquel.
Sword master: Claude Carliez.
Equine handler: François Nadal.
Credits: Jean Fouchet F.L.
Jean-Paul Belmondo (Dominique AKA Cartouche)
Claudia Cardinale (Vénus)
Odile Versois (Isabelle de Ferrussac)
Jess Hahn (la Douceur)
Marcel Dalio (Malichot)
Jean Rochefort (la Taupe)
Philippe Lemaire (Gaston de Ferrussac)
Noël Roquevert (le sergent recruteur)
Jacques Charon (le colonel)
Lucien Raimbourg (le Maréchal)
Jacques Ballutin (‘Capucine’, le moine)
Pierre Repp (Monsieur de Griffe)
Jacques Hilling (l’aubergiste)
Paul Preboist (le premier gendarme)
René Merlic (le tavernier)
Madeleine Clervanne (Pierrette la suivante)
Raoul Bilrey (un homme de Cartouche)
Running time: 115 minutes.
Filmed: 17 July – 6 October 1961, Studios Épinay.
Location: Béziers, Pézenas, Ermenonville and Paris region.
Distribution : Cinédis
Release in Paris: 7 March 1962.
Box office: 180 301 tickets sold in five weeks at three Paris cinemas.