Opening onto a pastoral setting worthy of both Renoirs, the Impressionist painter and his filmmaking son with whom Becker worked on many occasions, Casque d’or delicately glitters with all of the finely wrought detail of a master artisan’s work. Becker respectfully departs from the Reniors, however, by revealing the underpainting of a Belle Époque Paris, one whose waltzing couples are gangsters and prostitutes; yet in his sensitive construction, they are not defined by their profession but by their complicated humanity. Magnetically drawn to the hypnotic eyes and golden tresses of Simone Signoret’s kept Marie, the recently reformed Manda—played by a laconic Serge Reggiani—swiftly steals her heart, thus enraging another of her admirers, the local crime boss. Marie shares with her lover an intelligent, fearless independence and devotion to authentic human connection. Locked—and briefly lost—in a utopian passion, the heroic couple are not above duplicity or depravity; nor are Becker’s unscrupulous criminals beneath vulnerability or empathy. The dangerous terrain of Becker’s fin de siècle landscape encompasses both the sublime and the stark; Becker blends them with a heart-shattering seamlessness.