Jean-Luc Godard's 1964 film Bandè a part (sometimes titled "Band of Outsiders") is an adaptation of a American crime novel that transcends its pulp origins through Godard's cinematic invention. The young lady Odile (Anna Karina), who isn't very bright, meets lowlife Franz (Sami Frey) in an English course and makes the mistake of telling him that the home in which she lives with her aunt holds a large amount of cash. Franz and fellow criminal Arthur (Claude Brasseur) plan a heist while at the same time vying for Odile's love, or at least her body. As is common in the French New Wave, the auteur only uses a crime caper as a skeleton for his own storytelling. A narrator (Godard himself) occasionally reads descriptive passages from the original novel, which are horribly purple prose, as if Godard is poking fun at his own source of inspiration.
Bandè a part has occasionally been treated as a departure from this director's work, as "Godard for people who don't like Godard". However, anyone who has seen Godard's films to date will immediately recognize elements typical of his work at the time. For example, someone reads aloud a classic work of literature, this time an English teacher in a parody of modern language-learning methods. There is leftist social commentary, as the two criminals kill time by reading aloud tragic passages from Parisian newspapers. There is also dancing, as in the film's most famous scene Odile, Franz and Arthur interrupt their plotting for an amusing line dance in a café, over which the narrator tells us their unspoken thoughts.
And then there is Godard's many references to the film canon. Bandè a part is deeply imbued with the spirit of American noir films, which fits with the crime caper plot, but it also nods to classic slapstick and romance, which gives it a levity and charm I wouldn't have expected from a film with these particular characters. Bandè a part may not be among the most awesome masterpieces of cinema, but it is memorable and funny, and very much worth seeing for fans of mid-century French films.