After making such American noir classics as The Naked City and Brute Force, blacklisted director Jules Dassin went to Paris and embarked on his masterpiece: a twisting, turning tale of four ex-cons who hatch one last glorious heist in the City of Lights. At once naturalistic and expressionistic, this melange of suspense, brutality, and dark humor was an international hit and earned Dassin the Best Director prize at the Cannes Film Festival. —The Criterion Collection
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
For me, the quintessential heist film will always be the higher budget, Hollywood produced and Huston directed The Asphalt Jungle... But Rififi will always be the quintessential example that, in order to make a compelling and stylistically pleasing film, you don't need any of those luxuries. A testament to the power of the medium.
Marital strife, murder and mysterious disappearances enliven this unlikely marriage of Duras and Dassin.
Yves Allégret is part of that generation of French filmmakers it's no longer safe to ignore, despite their dismissal by Cahiers du Cinema