Jules Dassin was an Academy Award-nominated director, screenwriter and actor best known for his films Rififi (1955), Never on Sunday (1960), and Topkapi (1964).
He was born Julius Samuel Dassin on 18 December 1911, in Middletown, Connecticut, USA. He was one of eight children of Russian-Jewish immigrants, Samuel Dassin and Berthe Vogel. Young Dassin grew up in Harlem, and he attended Morris High School in the Bronx, graduating in 1929. After taking acting classes in Europe, he returned to New York. In 1934, he became and actor with the ARTEF Players (Arbeter Teater Farband), and was a member of the troupe until 1939. Dassin played character roles in Yiddish, mainly in the plays by Sholom Aleichem. But upon discovering “that an actor I was not,” he switched to directing and writing. At that time, he joined the Communist Party of the United States, but left the party in 1939, he said, disillusioned after the Soviet Union signed a pact with Adolf Hitler… read more
Gentleman Jules, survivor of the blacklisting, lover, patriot, citizen of the world and director of fine cinema. One of the most under appreciated directors. His stretch from 1947-1957 is a template for brilliant cinema. Jules Dassin, An artist with a wide canvas and big brush. 1947 Brute Force 1948 The Naked City 1949 Thieves Highway 1950 Night and the City 1955 Rififi 1957 He who must die. (Never in print on DVD) Criterion, I am looking at you. He had many commercial and critical successes. He paved the way for directors today. For beginners, I recommend starting with Night and the City (1950) or Rififi (1955) Du Rififi Du Chez Hommes is as important in the discussion of Cinema as Orson Well’s Citizen Kane. Wells fought for his film. He picked his fight Dassin fought for his life and his fight picked him. HUAC-McCarthy Rififi is Dassin's commentary on his and other artist’s blacklisting disguised as great Heist flick! Banned in Mexico due to copycat crimes, some were successful