Rififi


1h 57m 1954
Rififi

Brief Synopsis

Four friends plot an intricate jewelry heist, planning for everything except human frailty.

Film Details

Also Known As
Du rififi chez les hommes
MPAA Rating
NR
Genre
Crime
Adaptation
Drama
Foreign
Thriller
Release Date
1954
Production Company
PathT International
Distribution Company
Rialto Pictures; Rialto Pictures
Location
Paris, France

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 57m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Synopsis

Tony Le Stephanois is a thief who's just out of prison, having taken the fall to protect his young protégé Jo the Swede. But he can't resist his old ways and soon he and Jo have put together a gang to pull off an almost impossible theft, robbing the Paris equivalent of Tiffany's on the Rue de Rivoli. Based on the novel " Du rififi chez les hommes" by Auguste Le Breton.

Film Details

Also Known As
Du rififi chez les hommes
MPAA Rating
NR
Genre
Crime
Adaptation
Drama
Foreign
Thriller
Release Date
1954
Production Company
PathT International
Distribution Company
Rialto Pictures; Rialto Pictures
Location
Paris, France

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 57m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Articles

Rififi


When Jules Dassin's Rififi (original French title: Du Rififi chez les hommes) was released in 1955, it set a new standard for heist films and arguably has never been surpassed. Its classic robbery sequence takes up nearly half an hour of screen time with no dialogue or music, a virtuoso piece of filmmaking that has influenced practically every heist film since, from Dassin's own Topkapi (1964) to more recent efforts such as Steven Soderbergh's Ocean's Eleven (2001).

Many assume that Jules Dassin (1911-2008) was of either French or Greek origin because of his later films, but in fact he was born in Middletown, Connecticut to Russian-Jewish parents from Odessa. His family relocated to New York and he began his theater career in New York's Yiddish Proletarian Theater company. He also worked in radio for a time before joining RKO and later MGM in Hollywood. With the support of the maverick producer Mark Hellinger, he moved to Universal where he directed the American films noir for which he is best known today: Brute Force (1947) and The Naked City (1948). When Hellinger died suddenly, Dassin moved to Fox where he directed the ill-fated Thieves' Highway (1949) and Night and the City (1950).

Because of his former membership in the Communist Party and his refusal to name names, Dassin was blacklisted after the House Un-American Activities Committee investigations. He decided to move to Europe in order to continue making films, but his troubles followed him overseas. In 1953, Dassin was slated to direct the Fernandel comedy Public Enemy No. 1 and later an Italian film entitled Mastro don Gesualdo, but the long arms of Hollywood and the U.S. government intimidated the films' producers into removing Dassin from both projects. It wasn't until Rififi that Dassin was able to complete another film.

Aware of Dassin's accomplishments as a director of American noir and sympathetic to his plight, the French producer Henri Bérard approached him with the adaptation of Auguste Le Breton's 1953 novel Du Rififi chez les hommes. Although Dassin knew French, he found the novel almost unreadable due to its abundant Parisian underworld slang. Initially Dassin was put off by the book's lurid content, including its stereotyped representation of North Africans. Besides making the gangsters French rather than specifically North African, Dassin expanded the novel's relatively brief episode of the jewelry store heist into the centerpiece of the film's plot. In a 2000 interview Dassin recalled that when he, Bérard and Le Breton met to discuss the screenplay draft, Le Breton strutted in, aping gangster mannerisms. The pulp fiction writer even laid a gun on the table, demanding "Where is my book?" in response to the changes Dassin had made. However, Dassin stood his ground and the two soon became friends. Le Breton later wrote a sequel entitled Du Rififi chez les femmes, which was filmed in 1959; he also wrote the screenplay for Jean-Pierre Melville's Bob le flambeur (1956).

The film's low budget meant that Dassin wasn't able to work with major stars such as Jean Gabin. The lead role of Tony le Stéphanois, the tubercular ex-con, went instead to Jean Servais, a Belgian actor whose career had stagnated somewhat due to a drinking problem. Regardless, his well-worn face and voice serve the character beautifully. When the Italian actor chosen for the role of César backed out shortly before shooting, Dassin decided to play the role himself, under the screen name of "Perlo Vita." The Mappin & Webb jewelry store depicted in the film was an actual location in Paris; with the owners' permission, Dassin and his crew used both the name and the store's exterior.

In the same interview Dassin stated that the production designer Alexandre Trauner and the cinematographer Philippe Agostini had not worked for a while before Bérard engaged them for the film, though they had earned a reputation as leading figures in French cinema. Trauner had worked regularly with Marcel Carné during the Thirties and Forties and had even designed the sets for Orson Welles' Othello (1952). Agostini had worked with Trauner on Le Jour se leve (1939) and had also made films with notable directors such as Robert Bresson and Jean Grémillon. Actually, both Trauner and Agostini had continued to work more or less regularly during the Fifties, though perhaps not always on the same kind of high-profile projects that made their respective reputations during the Thirties and Forties.

Rififi opened in April 1955 and quickly became one of the top box office draws in France for that year, earning a handsome profit both for its producer and for Dassin, who had agreed to accept a percentage of the box office receipts as compensation for a reduced salary. In his review for the French newspaper Arts, Truffaut wrote: "Jules Dassin has made the best 'noir' film I have ever seen from the worst roman noir I have ever read." The film's international reputation was bolstered by Dassin winning Best Director at Cannes that year. When the film was released in the U.S. the following year, Bosley Crowther described it as "perhaps the keenest crime film that ever came from France" in his review for the New York Times. In addition to the heist sequence and the film's vivid treatment of its seedy milieu, Crowther praised Dassin's "poetic" depiction of "the tender beauty of Paris at dawn." Indeed, the tragic poetry underlying the film's gangster plot has continued to resonate with viewers today.

Producer: René Gaston Vuattoux; associate producers Henri Bérard, René Bezard, Pierre Cabaud
Director: Jules Dassin
Screenwriters: Jules Dassin, René Wheeler, Auguste Le Breton
Director of Photography: Philippe Agostini
Film Editor: Roger Dwyre
Production designers: Alexandre Trauner, Auguste Capelier
Musical score: Georges Auric; song "Rififi" by Jacques Larue and M. Philippe-Gérard
Principal Cast: Jean Servais (Tony le Stéphanois); Carl Möhner (Jo le Suedois); Robert Manuel (Mario Ferrati); Perlo Vita/Jules Dassin (César le Milanais); Marie Sabouret (Mado); Janine Darcey (Louise); Claude Sylvain (Ida Ferrati); Marcel Lupovici (Pierre Grutter); Robert Hossein (Rémi Grutter); Pierre Grasset (Louis Grutter); Magali Noël (Viviane); Dominique Maurin (Tonio).
BW-122m.

by James Steffen

Sources:
Crowther, Bosley. "Screen: Tough Paris Crime Story." New York Times, June 6, 1956, p.37.
Phillips, Alastair. Rififi. London and New York: I.B. Tauris, 2009.
Interview with Jules Dassin (filmed in 2000), Criterion Collection DVD edition of Rififi.

Rififi

Rififi

When Jules Dassin's Rififi (original French title: Du Rififi chez les hommes) was released in 1955, it set a new standard for heist films and arguably has never been surpassed. Its classic robbery sequence takes up nearly half an hour of screen time with no dialogue or music, a virtuoso piece of filmmaking that has influenced practically every heist film since, from Dassin's own Topkapi (1964) to more recent efforts such as Steven Soderbergh's Ocean's Eleven (2001). Many assume that Jules Dassin (1911-2008) was of either French or Greek origin because of his later films, but in fact he was born in Middletown, Connecticut to Russian-Jewish parents from Odessa. His family relocated to New York and he began his theater career in New York's Yiddish Proletarian Theater company. He also worked in radio for a time before joining RKO and later MGM in Hollywood. With the support of the maverick producer Mark Hellinger, he moved to Universal where he directed the American films noir for which he is best known today: Brute Force (1947) and The Naked City (1948). When Hellinger died suddenly, Dassin moved to Fox where he directed the ill-fated Thieves' Highway (1949) and Night and the City (1950). Because of his former membership in the Communist Party and his refusal to name names, Dassin was blacklisted after the House Un-American Activities Committee investigations. He decided to move to Europe in order to continue making films, but his troubles followed him overseas. In 1953, Dassin was slated to direct the Fernandel comedy Public Enemy No. 1 and later an Italian film entitled Mastro don Gesualdo, but the long arms of Hollywood and the U.S. government intimidated the films' producers into removing Dassin from both projects. It wasn't until Rififi that Dassin was able to complete another film. Aware of Dassin's accomplishments as a director of American noir and sympathetic to his plight, the French producer Henri Bérard approached him with the adaptation of Auguste Le Breton's 1953 novel Du Rififi chez les hommes. Although Dassin knew French, he found the novel almost unreadable due to its abundant Parisian underworld slang. Initially Dassin was put off by the book's lurid content, including its stereotyped representation of North Africans. Besides making the gangsters French rather than specifically North African, Dassin expanded the novel's relatively brief episode of the jewelry store heist into the centerpiece of the film's plot. In a 2000 interview Dassin recalled that when he, Bérard and Le Breton met to discuss the screenplay draft, Le Breton strutted in, aping gangster mannerisms. The pulp fiction writer even laid a gun on the table, demanding "Where is my book?" in response to the changes Dassin had made. However, Dassin stood his ground and the two soon became friends. Le Breton later wrote a sequel entitled Du Rififi chez les femmes, which was filmed in 1959; he also wrote the screenplay for Jean-Pierre Melville's Bob le flambeur (1956). The film's low budget meant that Dassin wasn't able to work with major stars such as Jean Gabin. The lead role of Tony le Stéphanois, the tubercular ex-con, went instead to Jean Servais, a Belgian actor whose career had stagnated somewhat due to a drinking problem. Regardless, his well-worn face and voice serve the character beautifully. When the Italian actor chosen for the role of César backed out shortly before shooting, Dassin decided to play the role himself, under the screen name of "Perlo Vita." The Mappin & Webb jewelry store depicted in the film was an actual location in Paris; with the owners' permission, Dassin and his crew used both the name and the store's exterior. In the same interview Dassin stated that the production designer Alexandre Trauner and the cinematographer Philippe Agostini had not worked for a while before Bérard engaged them for the film, though they had earned a reputation as leading figures in French cinema. Trauner had worked regularly with Marcel Carné during the Thirties and Forties and had even designed the sets for Orson Welles' Othello (1952). Agostini had worked with Trauner on Le Jour se leve (1939) and had also made films with notable directors such as Robert Bresson and Jean Grémillon. Actually, both Trauner and Agostini had continued to work more or less regularly during the Fifties, though perhaps not always on the same kind of high-profile projects that made their respective reputations during the Thirties and Forties. Rififi opened in April 1955 and quickly became one of the top box office draws in France for that year, earning a handsome profit both for its producer and for Dassin, who had agreed to accept a percentage of the box office receipts as compensation for a reduced salary. In his review for the French newspaper Arts, Truffaut wrote: "Jules Dassin has made the best 'noir' film I have ever seen from the worst roman noir I have ever read." The film's international reputation was bolstered by Dassin winning Best Director at Cannes that year. When the film was released in the U.S. the following year, Bosley Crowther described it as "perhaps the keenest crime film that ever came from France" in his review for the New York Times. In addition to the heist sequence and the film's vivid treatment of its seedy milieu, Crowther praised Dassin's "poetic" depiction of "the tender beauty of Paris at dawn." Indeed, the tragic poetry underlying the film's gangster plot has continued to resonate with viewers today. Producer: René Gaston Vuattoux; associate producers Henri Bérard, René Bezard, Pierre Cabaud Director: Jules Dassin Screenwriters: Jules Dassin, René Wheeler, Auguste Le Breton Director of Photography: Philippe Agostini Film Editor: Roger Dwyre Production designers: Alexandre Trauner, Auguste Capelier Musical score: Georges Auric; song "Rififi" by Jacques Larue and M. Philippe-Gérard Principal Cast: Jean Servais (Tony le Stéphanois); Carl Möhner (Jo le Suedois); Robert Manuel (Mario Ferrati); Perlo Vita/Jules Dassin (César le Milanais); Marie Sabouret (Mado); Janine Darcey (Louise); Claude Sylvain (Ida Ferrati); Marcel Lupovici (Pierre Grutter); Robert Hossein (Rémi Grutter); Pierre Grasset (Louis Grutter); Magali Noël (Viviane); Dominique Maurin (Tonio). BW-122m. by James Steffen Sources: Crowther, Bosley. "Screen: Tough Paris Crime Story." New York Times, June 6, 1956, p.37. Phillips, Alastair. Rififi. London and New York: I.B. Tauris, 2009. Interview with Jules Dassin (filmed in 2000), Criterion Collection DVD edition of Rififi.

Rififi on Criterion Blu-ray


The French film Rififi (Du rififi chez les hommes) made such a splash in New York art houses in 1956, it was earned wide distribution through normal channels. It became known as "the crime thriller with the suspenseful jewelry heist". Most American audiences were unaware that French writers and filmmakers had fallen in love with hardboiled Yankee pulp fiction, as well as the pessimistic crime films dubbed by their critics with the phrase film noir. Excellent French crime pictures had come before but Rififi was one of the few that succeeded on the international market. Its primary writer is the French "Serie Noire" crime writer August Le Breton. Many Americans assumed that credited director Jules Dassin was a Frenchman as well.

Actually, Dassin was one of the most prominent of the Hollywood directors blacklisted by the HUAC witch hunts. A stage director who got started as a directing trainee at MGM, Dassin made the exemplary short subject The Tell-Tale Heart before reaching his stride with four terrific noir thrillers, The Naked City, Thieves' Highway, Brute Force and Night and the City. Darryl Zanuck so liked Dassin's work that he set up Night and the City to be filmed in London, just to keep Dassin away from the lynch mob mentality of organizations like The American Legion. But it didn't work -- Dassin spent four years in exile in Rome and Paris. Projects fell through when French and Italian producers were threatened with economic reprisals if they allowed Dassin to work. Dassin says that when a French producer signed him for Rififi, it was because he was willing to work for very little money.

As it happened, Rififi became a home run for Dassin, an enormous success that inspired a series of imitators using the word 'Rififi' in their titles. Le Breton's tale is a mini-epic about a gang of professional crooks that come together to execute a difficult robbery. Special technological skills, split-second timing and nerves of steel are required. The model for this "heist caper" crime subgenre was John Huston's The Asphalt Jungle, but the cultured Dassin added his own experience to Le Breton's tough-guy storyline. The crooks range from a slick safecracker who wants to impress women, to a crook with a wife and daughter. The leader Tony le Stéphanois (Jean Servais) is a noble loser fresh from prison, whose only chance is to make a big score. After giving a particularly brutal beating to his unfaithful girlfriend Mado (Marie Sabouret), Tony shakes his depression by initiating the big heist. The well-planned caper culminates in a lengthy, realistic, dialogue-free break-in scene that involves cutting through buildings and outwitting a modern alarm system. All goes perfectly until imported safecracker Cesar (Jules Dassin, the director) steals a diamond tidbit for the sexy singer (Magali Noel) he's dating. Opportunistic crooks waste no time -- the thieves suddenly find themselves being forced to surrender their hard-earned loot.

Rififi is a completely engrossing film. The Paris streets of 1955 are a wonder to behold. Economic limitations force Dassin to film his car scenes in real moving vehicles, adding to the feeling of 'being there', of being in a time machine. Back in Hollywood, the unyielding Production Code had frustrated some of Dassin's stabs at gritty reality. In this French picture he's able to depict all manner of vices and sordid activity. The adult attitude starts with the depiction of the hero. Le Stéphanois risks all to save a little boy, but he's also a psychological wreck prone to acts of brutality against women.

The sex angle is more pronounced as well. The wife of gang member Mario (Robert Manuel) sees nothing wrong with greeting her husband's friends in a daringly revealing nightgown. It's the kind of content that filled American pulp paperbacks but never made it into 1955's Kiss Me Deadly or The Big Combo. Those U.S. pictures had to answer to the censors for errata as tame as a black singer holding a microphone stand "too suggestively."

We find out that Tony's once-vaunted reputation has crumbled when gamblers in a card game treat him like a bum. The weary Jean Servais communicates this loss of respect; at the time of filming, the actor's career was in a slump as well. Even more telling is the sight of Cesar when he realizes that he must pay for breaking the code of the underworld. Tied to a post and awaiting a bullet, actor Dassin shows a despairing look of defeat that director Dassin must have known all too well.

The word 'Rififi' is introduced in a cabaret song by the gorgeous, Turkish-born Magali Noel, later known for standout roles in Federico Fellini films. Rififi apparently translates as 'the rough and tumble' of the underworld life, but it's also suggested that it might also refer to violent sex. The impeccably chosen cast includes the expressive Robert Hossein, whose haunted looks make him a worthy adversary to the formidable Jean Servais.

The famed half-hour heist scene is done without dialogue or even a music soundtrack. Viewers must pay attention to follow the complicated way the crooks penetrate the jewelry store and crack its safe without setting off any alarms. Although it's been topped many times -- by Dassin himself in his 1964 caper comedy Topkapi -- the sequence has a hypnotic effect. The thieves work so well and so hard, that we can't help but contemplate the relationship between work, risk and reward. Are they blind fools, or brilliant masterminds thwarted only by a chance of fate?

Of the most talented directors banished from Hollywood, Joseph Losey and Cy Endfield took up permanent residence in England, while Edward Dmytryk recanted, named names and was permitted to resume his career. John Berry spent most of the 1950s in Paris before the 1960 blacklist thaw allowed his return to Hollywood. But Jules Dassin fell in love with Greek actress Melina Mercouri and made six movies with her, including the Oscar winner Never on Sunday). Unlike the tragic characters in his noir classics, Dassin never surrendered and never compromised. His American noirs are some of the best, and his Rififi remains the most revered French crime thriller.

Criterion's Dual Format Blu-ray + DVD of Rififi improves on their 2001 DVD with a more stable, sharp and detailed transfer that faithfully reproduces the essence of cameraman Philippe Agostini's gray-on-gray cinematography. The film is in French with subtitles, and Criterion has also included the English-dubbed soundtrack that most Americans saw in 1956.

Although everything in the movie looks like a real location, famed production designer Alexandre Trauner's set sketches are included to demonstrate that key interior settings were indeed filmed in a studio. The best extra is an excellent interview with director Dassin, taped in 2000. As feisty and opinionated as ever, Dassin discusses the essence of the blacklist and chronicles the way that Clare Booth Luce, then the Ambassador to Italy, conducted a vendetta to destroy his directing career in Europe. Dassin also tells amusing stories about some of the absurdities of working in the studio system, where a good performance on the MGM or Fox baseball team might insure better terms in a directing contract.

By Glenn Erickson

Rififi on Criterion Blu-ray

The French film Rififi (Du rififi chez les hommes) made such a splash in New York art houses in 1956, it was earned wide distribution through normal channels. It became known as "the crime thriller with the suspenseful jewelry heist". Most American audiences were unaware that French writers and filmmakers had fallen in love with hardboiled Yankee pulp fiction, as well as the pessimistic crime films dubbed by their critics with the phrase film noir. Excellent French crime pictures had come before but Rififi was one of the few that succeeded on the international market. Its primary writer is the French "Serie Noire" crime writer August Le Breton. Many Americans assumed that credited director Jules Dassin was a Frenchman as well. Actually, Dassin was one of the most prominent of the Hollywood directors blacklisted by the HUAC witch hunts. A stage director who got started as a directing trainee at MGM, Dassin made the exemplary short subject The Tell-Tale Heart before reaching his stride with four terrific noir thrillers, The Naked City, Thieves' Highway, Brute Force and Night and the City. Darryl Zanuck so liked Dassin's work that he set up Night and the City to be filmed in London, just to keep Dassin away from the lynch mob mentality of organizations like The American Legion. But it didn't work -- Dassin spent four years in exile in Rome and Paris. Projects fell through when French and Italian producers were threatened with economic reprisals if they allowed Dassin to work. Dassin says that when a French producer signed him for Rififi, it was because he was willing to work for very little money. As it happened, Rififi became a home run for Dassin, an enormous success that inspired a series of imitators using the word 'Rififi' in their titles. Le Breton's tale is a mini-epic about a gang of professional crooks that come together to execute a difficult robbery. Special technological skills, split-second timing and nerves of steel are required. The model for this "heist caper" crime subgenre was John Huston's The Asphalt Jungle, but the cultured Dassin added his own experience to Le Breton's tough-guy storyline. The crooks range from a slick safecracker who wants to impress women, to a crook with a wife and daughter. The leader Tony le Stéphanois (Jean Servais) is a noble loser fresh from prison, whose only chance is to make a big score. After giving a particularly brutal beating to his unfaithful girlfriend Mado (Marie Sabouret), Tony shakes his depression by initiating the big heist. The well-planned caper culminates in a lengthy, realistic, dialogue-free break-in scene that involves cutting through buildings and outwitting a modern alarm system. All goes perfectly until imported safecracker Cesar (Jules Dassin, the director) steals a diamond tidbit for the sexy singer (Magali Noel) he's dating. Opportunistic crooks waste no time -- the thieves suddenly find themselves being forced to surrender their hard-earned loot. Rififi is a completely engrossing film. The Paris streets of 1955 are a wonder to behold. Economic limitations force Dassin to film his car scenes in real moving vehicles, adding to the feeling of 'being there', of being in a time machine. Back in Hollywood, the unyielding Production Code had frustrated some of Dassin's stabs at gritty reality. In this French picture he's able to depict all manner of vices and sordid activity. The adult attitude starts with the depiction of the hero. Le Stéphanois risks all to save a little boy, but he's also a psychological wreck prone to acts of brutality against women. The sex angle is more pronounced as well. The wife of gang member Mario (Robert Manuel) sees nothing wrong with greeting her husband's friends in a daringly revealing nightgown. It's the kind of content that filled American pulp paperbacks but never made it into 1955's Kiss Me Deadly or The Big Combo. Those U.S. pictures had to answer to the censors for errata as tame as a black singer holding a microphone stand "too suggestively." We find out that Tony's once-vaunted reputation has crumbled when gamblers in a card game treat him like a bum. The weary Jean Servais communicates this loss of respect; at the time of filming, the actor's career was in a slump as well. Even more telling is the sight of Cesar when he realizes that he must pay for breaking the code of the underworld. Tied to a post and awaiting a bullet, actor Dassin shows a despairing look of defeat that director Dassin must have known all too well. The word 'Rififi' is introduced in a cabaret song by the gorgeous, Turkish-born Magali Noel, later known for standout roles in Federico Fellini films. Rififi apparently translates as 'the rough and tumble' of the underworld life, but it's also suggested that it might also refer to violent sex. The impeccably chosen cast includes the expressive Robert Hossein, whose haunted looks make him a worthy adversary to the formidable Jean Servais. The famed half-hour heist scene is done without dialogue or even a music soundtrack. Viewers must pay attention to follow the complicated way the crooks penetrate the jewelry store and crack its safe without setting off any alarms. Although it's been topped many times -- by Dassin himself in his 1964 caper comedy Topkapi -- the sequence has a hypnotic effect. The thieves work so well and so hard, that we can't help but contemplate the relationship between work, risk and reward. Are they blind fools, or brilliant masterminds thwarted only by a chance of fate? Of the most talented directors banished from Hollywood, Joseph Losey and Cy Endfield took up permanent residence in England, while Edward Dmytryk recanted, named names and was permitted to resume his career. John Berry spent most of the 1950s in Paris before the 1960 blacklist thaw allowed his return to Hollywood. But Jules Dassin fell in love with Greek actress Melina Mercouri and made six movies with her, including the Oscar winner Never on Sunday). Unlike the tragic characters in his noir classics, Dassin never surrendered and never compromised. His American noirs are some of the best, and his Rififi remains the most revered French crime thriller. Criterion's Dual Format Blu-ray + DVD of Rififi improves on their 2001 DVD with a more stable, sharp and detailed transfer that faithfully reproduces the essence of cameraman Philippe Agostini's gray-on-gray cinematography. The film is in French with subtitles, and Criterion has also included the English-dubbed soundtrack that most Americans saw in 1956. Although everything in the movie looks like a real location, famed production designer Alexandre Trauner's set sketches are included to demonstrate that key interior settings were indeed filmed in a studio. The best extra is an excellent interview with director Dassin, taped in 2000. As feisty and opinionated as ever, Dassin discusses the essence of the blacklist and chronicles the way that Clare Booth Luce, then the Ambassador to Italy, conducted a vendetta to destroy his directing career in Europe. Dassin also tells amusing stories about some of the absurdities of working in the studio system, where a good performance on the MGM or Fox baseball team might insure better terms in a directing contract. By Glenn Erickson

Jules Dassin (1911-2008) - TCM Schedule Change for Director Jules Dassin Memorial Tribute on Friday, April 20th


In Tribute to director Jules Dassin, who died Monday, March 31st, at age 96, TCM is changing its evening programming on Sunday, April 20th to honor the actor with a double-feature salute.

Sunday, April 20th
8:00 PM Naked City
9:45 PM Topkapi


TCM REMEMBERS JULES DASSIN (1911-2008)

Jules Dassin gained experience in theater and radio in New York before going to work in Hollywood in 1940, first with RKO (as assistant director) and then with MGM. Dassin hit his stride in the late 1940s with such dynamic (and still well-regarded) film noir melodramas as "Brute Force" (1947), "The Naked City" (1948), "Thieves' Highway" (1949) and "Night and the City" (1950), starring Richard Widmark who died this past Monday, March 24th.

After being blacklisted he moved to Europe, where he scored his greatest international successes with the French-produced "Rififi" (1955) and the then-scandalous "Never on Sunday" (1959), starring his second wife Melina Mercouri. For the most part, his later films--such as "Up Tight" (1968), an ill-conceived black remake of John Ford's 1935 classic "The Informer"--have been disappointing and inconclusive. Dassin, however, maintained that among his own films, his personal preference was "He Who Must Die" (1958), starring his wife Melina Mercouri. It is one of his least known films and is rarely screened today but here is a description of it: "Greece, in the 1920's, is occupied by the Turks. The country is in turmoil with entire villages uprooted. The site of the movie is a Greek village that conducts a passion play each year. The leading citizens of the town, under the auspices of the Patriarch, choose those that will play the parts in the Passion. A stuttering shepherd is chosen to play Jesus. The town butcher (who wanted to be Jesus) is chosen as Judas. The town prostitute is chosen as Mary Magdalene. The rest of the disciples are also chosen. As the movie unfolds, the Passion Play becomes a reality. A group of villagers, uprooted by the war and impoverished, arrive at the village led by their priest. The wealthier citizens of the town want nothing with these people and manipulate a massacre. In the context of the 1920's each of the characters plays out their biblical role in actuality."

Family

DAUGHTER: Julie Dassin. Actor. Mother, Beatrice Launer.
SON: Joey Dassin. Mother, Beatrice Launer.
SON: Rickey Dassin. Mother, Beatrice Launer.

Companion
WIFE: Beatrice Launer. Former concert violinist. Married in 1933; divorced in 1962.
WIFE: Melina Mercouri. Actor, politician. Born c. 1923; Greek; together from 1959; married from 1966 until her death on March 6, 1994.

Milestone

1936: First role on New York stage (Yiddish Theater)

1940: First film as assistant director Directed first stage play, "The Medicine Show 1941: Directed first short film, "The Tell-Tale Heart"

1942: Feature directing debut, "Nazi Agent/Salute to Courage"

Jules Dassin (1911-2008) - TCM Schedule Change for Director Jules Dassin Memorial Tribute on Friday, April 20th

In Tribute to director Jules Dassin, who died Monday, March 31st, at age 96, TCM is changing its evening programming on Sunday, April 20th to honor the actor with a double-feature salute. Sunday, April 20th 8:00 PM Naked City 9:45 PM Topkapi TCM REMEMBERS JULES DASSIN (1911-2008) Jules Dassin gained experience in theater and radio in New York before going to work in Hollywood in 1940, first with RKO (as assistant director) and then with MGM. Dassin hit his stride in the late 1940s with such dynamic (and still well-regarded) film noir melodramas as "Brute Force" (1947), "The Naked City" (1948), "Thieves' Highway" (1949) and "Night and the City" (1950), starring Richard Widmark who died this past Monday, March 24th. After being blacklisted he moved to Europe, where he scored his greatest international successes with the French-produced "Rififi" (1955) and the then-scandalous "Never on Sunday" (1959), starring his second wife Melina Mercouri. For the most part, his later films--such as "Up Tight" (1968), an ill-conceived black remake of John Ford's 1935 classic "The Informer"--have been disappointing and inconclusive. Dassin, however, maintained that among his own films, his personal preference was "He Who Must Die" (1958), starring his wife Melina Mercouri. It is one of his least known films and is rarely screened today but here is a description of it: "Greece, in the 1920's, is occupied by the Turks. The country is in turmoil with entire villages uprooted. The site of the movie is a Greek village that conducts a passion play each year. The leading citizens of the town, under the auspices of the Patriarch, choose those that will play the parts in the Passion. A stuttering shepherd is chosen to play Jesus. The town butcher (who wanted to be Jesus) is chosen as Judas. The town prostitute is chosen as Mary Magdalene. The rest of the disciples are also chosen. As the movie unfolds, the Passion Play becomes a reality. A group of villagers, uprooted by the war and impoverished, arrive at the village led by their priest. The wealthier citizens of the town want nothing with these people and manipulate a massacre. In the context of the 1920's each of the characters plays out their biblical role in actuality." Family DAUGHTER: Julie Dassin. Actor. Mother, Beatrice Launer. SON: Joey Dassin. Mother, Beatrice Launer. SON: Rickey Dassin. Mother, Beatrice Launer. Companion WIFE: Beatrice Launer. Former concert violinist. Married in 1933; divorced in 1962. WIFE: Melina Mercouri. Actor, politician. Born c. 1923; Greek; together from 1959; married from 1966 until her death on March 6, 1994. Milestone 1936: First role on New York stage (Yiddish Theater) 1940: First film as assistant director Directed first stage play, "The Medicine Show 1941: Directed first short film, "The Tell-Tale Heart" 1942: Feature directing debut, "Nazi Agent/Salute to Courage"

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Winner of a 2000 special award for Best Re-Release from the New York Film Critics Circle.

Voted One of the Year's Five Best Foreign Films by the 1956 National Board of Review.

Voted One of the Year's Five Best Foreign Language Films by the 1956 New York Times Film Critics.

Co-Winner of the Best Director Prize at the 1955 Cannes Film Fetival.

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1954

Released in United States 1956

Re-released in United States July 21, 2000

Released in United States November 17, 2000

Limited re-release in United States September 2, 2015

Based on the novel Du rififi chez les hommes" written by Auguste Le Breton and first published by Gallimard in 1953.

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1954

Released in United States 1956

Re-released in United States July 21, 2000 (Film Forum; New York City)

Released in United States November 17, 2000 (Landmark UC Theatre; Berkeley, California)

Limited re-release in United States September 2, 2015 (New York & Los Angeles)