Although this taut French tragedy may be set in belle epoque Paris, it etches the lines of a doomed love triangle with a hardened, Postwar sobriety—violence and hostility abound in the dark corners of every smoky dance hall and along the mossy hills of every bucolic countryside. After eyeing flaxen-haired Marie (played in a career-changing performance by an entrancing Simone Signoret), reformed crook Manda (Serge Reggiani) immediately clashes with her gangster boyfriend and the members of his pugnacious crime syndicate. The stage is set at once for a crushing love affair and its doomed conclusion. Director Jacques Becker assisted Jean Renoir on classics such as The Rules of the Game (1939) and Grand Illusion (1937). Becker’s use of a gliding camera and detailed mise-en-scène owe a debt to Renoir and imbue each character and locale with a robust sense of individuality. Perhaps most brutal of all is his handling of Marie, whose towering coiffure (literally the “helmet of gold” of the film’s title) and piercing eyes suggest the tenacity and self-sufficiency with which she steels herself for life’s battles—only letting her hair down, and thus her guard, for the fleeting reprieve of a few happy days of love with Manda in the countryside. (Note written by Max Rifkind-Barron).