episode 2/6 of the Mesrine podcast, pride and blood

Parallel to his published struggle for the improvement of detention conditions, Jacques Mesrine perfects himself in the attacks of banks in the company of his accomplice John Paul Mercier, a seasoned robber, with whom he escaped from prison. It is at his side that Mesrine cut his teeth. The robberies follow each other at an impressive pace.

We always say that a man who has robbed in Quebec can rob the whole world. It is very difficult, you have to be very professional and very fast. He made a few banks with Jean-Paul Mercier and became a very good robber.Michel Ardouin, gangster of the 70s and 80s.

Mesrine, fake revolutionary, real criminal

In 1972, Jacques Mesrine was juggling both his career as a bank robber and the media attention for his character. It was then, on the run, that he met Jocelyne Deraiche, then a cashier in a supermarket. She is 18 years old, Mesrine twice.

In September 1972, Mercier and Mesrine attempted to attack the prison of Saint-Vincent-de-Paul to provoke a mass escape. Several guards fired. The two fugitives are injured, but manage to escape. Even today, it is certain that it was this attack that caused the closure of the special correction unit.

It was not a political gesture, he wanted to release his fellow prisoners. But in the context, the authorities saw him as a revolutionary trying to blow up the system, the institution! However, it is never a particular event that causes things to change radically. The proof is that nothing radically has changed since then! (…) If they closed Saint-Vincent-de-Paul, it is because the modernization of this 19th century prison would entail excessive costs and other penal institutions were built to replace it.Jean-Claude Bernheim, criminological researcher.

Quebec’s Most Wanted Man

Mesrine is therefore identified as carrying a message of violent protest against the prison system and, more broadly, against society as a whole. But in the autumn of 1972, with his accomplice Jean-Paul Mercier, they commit an irreparable act. While they were practicing shooting in the woods, they coolly murder two gamekeepers who came to check on them, Médéric Côté and Ernest Saint-Pierre. The criminals have become two ultra wanted killers. So much so that Mesrine decides to go to New York with Jocelyne Deraiche, Jean-Paul Mercier and his partner Suzanne Francoeur. They stay in the most beautiful hotels, which creates surprising situations:

We stayed at the Waldorf Astoria. By the way, I met Pierre-Elliott Trudeau with his wife and their two boys who were looking at me and I made a face at them and that shocked Jacques. But I was 18, I didn’t give a fuck. And then we flew from New York to Venezuela.” Jocelyne Deraiche, former companion of Mesrine




58 minutes

Shortly after, the small band moved to a villa in Caracas. At that time, local authorities in Venezuela could protect certain individuals from many things, including the Canadian police. But Mesrine will make a mistake. With Jocelyne Deraiche they decide to return to France. The first act of his criminal career has been completed. Back in Paris, the mobster has big plans…

For me, Quebec is the dress rehearsal for what Mesrine will do upon his return to France. Everything is already there. The image of the gentleman robber who jokes with bank employees while threatening them. The kidnapping of the millionaire. The avenger who denounces his terms of detention. Elements that we will find line by line when he returns to France, we really have the impression that he said to himself: “In Quebec I was known for it, it worked. I will do the exact same thing again.” Philippe Roizès, documentary filmmaker, co-author of “Mesrine, fragments of a myth”

Second episode with André Normandeau, criminologist; Jean-Claude Bernheim, researcher in criminology; Philippe Roizes, documentary filmmaker, co-writer of Mesrine, fragments of a myth (Flammarion).

‘s interviews Jocelyne Deraiche, Michel Ardouin and Michel Schayewski are made by Philippe Roizes and produced by Daniel Delume and Dad Films.
Fragments of the disc Mesrine is still talking be used with the kind permission of PHOTO Police.

A podcast produced and hosted by Stéphane Berthomet, directed by Cédric Chabuel.
A co-production of Radio-Canada OHdio and France Culture.

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