FROM THE VAULT: 1959 Pickpocket Starring: Martin La Salle, Marika Green, Pierre Leymarie Director: Robert Bresson The film: French director Robert Bresson stopped using professional actors early in his career, and while his desire to capture natural behaviour rather than 'performance' with this approach has been questioned by some, it worked well with Pickpocket. Then-unknown Martin La Salle's portrayal of a morally questionable dropout starting out on a career as a pickpocket plays well in tandem with his lack of experience in front of the camera. His nervous tension throughout the film is almost palpable; from his first hesitant fumblings with a woman's handbag at the Longchamp racecourse to his final, well-rehearsed movements back at the same location. A series of French films made during the 1950s and early 1960s came in for official criticism for their depiction of how to break the law: Jacques Becker's Le Trou (1960) gave useful tips on how to escape from prison, for example, and Jules Dassin's Rififi (1955) gave an onscreen master class, later put to good use by real-life villains, in how to perform a jewellery heist. For Pickpocket, Bresson hired onetime wallet lifter-turned-cabaret artist Kassagi as a technical adviser and gave him a significant role as La Salle's light-fingered accomplice. There are several intriguing montage sequences both of training and actual thieving, all set to 17th-century music from Jean-Baptiste Lully's opera Atys. Less spiritual in its underlying tone than some of Bresson's heavier-going work, such as Diary of a Country Priest (1951), or Au Hasard Balthazar (1966), this fairly short film (73 minutes) is also much faster moving and a good introduction for newcomers to this most ascetic and uncompromising of French directors. The extras: This two-disc package from Artificial Eye is stacked with interesting supplements, the best of which is a new 52-minute documentary in which director Babette Mangolte goes in search of the three principal actors. The highlight is the final segment in which she finds La Salle living in unexpected circumstances, halfway around the world. To elaborate further would spoil the surprise. There's also a short 1959 French TV interview with Bresson, and a fairly recent post-screening film festival interview with Marika Green (below, with La Salle), who plays La Salle's love interest in the film. A thoughtful addition is some scratchy but entertaining old black-and-white footage of Kassagi's Paris cabaret show, in which he steals items from the audience. The film was restored in France last year, and this anamorphic transfer is pretty much flawless.