Saturday, June 9, 2007

Rififi (1955)

Directed by Jules Dassin. Starring Jean Servais, Carl Mohner, and Perlo Vita.

After Dassin was blacklisted by the McCarthy-era Congress, he decided to move to France rather than stop making films. It's our gain, since RIFIFI is a masterpiece of the heist genre. All the ingredients are here- a veteran con, a crack team of crooks, seedy locations. As for the heist itself, it's a doozy, a low-tech affair involving such gadgets as an umbrella, unfolding over the course of a half-hour of pure cinema without music or dialogue. The film's wrap-up is fascinating in its nihilism, as one by one the team members begin to betray each other. Sure, it's all been done over and over again since RIFIFI was made, but Dassin should be praised for making such an influential film. What makes it a classic is how wonderfully it still works for me even after so many have imitated it.

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