Jules Dassin (1911 - 2008) began his filmmaking career in the early 1940s and is known for his hits Brute Force (1947), The Naked City (1948), and Thieves' Highway (1949). His career later took a hit when he was blacklisted for Communist activities during the McCarthy Era. Dassin's move to France helped revive his career and was the setting for the hit film Rififi that set his career in motion once again. After the film's successful French release, Dassin was awarded the directing prize at Cannes which allowed Rififi to be released in the U.S. where it enjoyed a successful art house run. Rififi is renowned for being one of the early 'heist' films and served as an inspiration for later films in the genre.
Inspired by the adventures of Belgian cartoonist Herge’s Tintin adventures (which also provided the basis for a 2011 Steven Spielberg adaptation), a prized Amazonian statue is stolen from a Parisian museum. Three such statues left South American on an expedition that involved the late father of Agnes (Francoise Dorleac) and and two colleagues. Professor Catalan
If you do and you live in St. Louis, you’re in luck! The Seventh Annual Robert Classic French Film Festival — co-presented by Cinema St. Louis and the Webster University Film Series begins March 13th. The Classic French Film Festival celebrates St. Louis’ Gallic heritage and France’s cinematic legacy. The featured films span the decades from the 1930s through the early 1990s, offering a comprehensive overview of French cinema. The fest is annually highlighted by significant restorations.
This year features recent restorations of eight works, including an extended director’s cut of Patrice Chéreau’s historical epic Queen Margot a New York-set film noir (Two Men In Manhattan) by crime-film maestro Jean-Pierre Melville, who also co-stars; a short feature (“A Day in the Country”) by Jean Renoir, on a double bill with the 2006 restoration of his masterpiece, The Rules Of The Game, and the
Written by Auguste le Breton, Jules Dassin and René Weeler
Directed by Jules Dassin
Having recently concluded a prison sentence, Tony ‘le Stéphanois’ (Jean Servais), former thief, is now a poor man, reduced to late night gambling to earn paltry pocket change. His two closest friends and former colleagues, Jo ‘le Suédois’ (Carl Mohner) and Mario Ferrati (Robert Manuel) have something else in mind when they present him the idea of stealing jewels from a high society jeweler shop in downtown Paris. Tony is reluctant at first, having lived enough failures as a crook and desiring to reunite with his former flame Mado (Marie Sabouret). Upon learning however that Pierre Grutter (Marcel Lupovic), eternal rival and nightclub owner, has claimed Mado as his main squeeze, Tony finally gives in to temptation and joins the newly formed quartet of criminal minds, the late addition being safe cracker César, played
By Raymond Benson
Two of the superb releases recently issued by The Criterion Collection are classics from the 1950s international scene. One is arguably the best caper/heist movie ever made, and the other is perhaps the best Shakespearean adaptation ever produced.
First up—Rififi, released in 1955 and directed by American director Jules Dassin—who had exiled himself from America due to the blacklist. It’s a film noir made in France with French and Italian actors and a French crew. As the lyrics in a cabaret number, sung by Magali Noel in the film, reveal, rififi means “rough and tumble.” In other words, Rififi is about riff-raff, tough guys, and would-be gangsters. In this case, the protagonists are a quartet of jewel thieves who plan a big caper together—to break into the safe in a notable jewelry store in Paris. Led by Tony
Price: Blu-ray/DVD Combo $39.95
The heist is on in the great 1955 French crime drama Rififi.
The great 1955 French crime drama Rififi is a twisting, turning tale of four ex-cons who hatch one last glorious robbery in Paris.
After making such American noir classics as Brute Force and The Naked City, the blacklisted director Jules Dassin went to the City of Light and embarked on the Rififi, the film noir that many consider his masterpiece.
Starring Jean Servais, Carl Mohner, Robert Manuel and Dassin himself, the film’s suspense, brutality, and dark humor made it an international hit, earning Dassin the best director prize at the Cannes Film Festival. It has since proved to be wildly influential on decades of heist thrillers in its wake.
Presented in French with English subtitles, the Criterion Blu-ray/DVD Combo edition of the classic movie includes the following features:
• New 2K digital restoration,
The strikingly titled Black Jesus (1968 - the Italian title translates, more subtly, as Sitting on His Right) is a good example of Zurlini's willingness to follow a story into the darkest places. It's based blatantly on the true story of Patrice Lumumba, the first legally elected Congolese leader, who was deposed, tortured and assassinated under the watchful eye of the Un, and with the probable connivance of the Us and Belgium.
Fyodore Otsep (Russia), also credited as Fjodor Ozep (Germany), Fedor Ozep (Canada) and Fédor Ozep (France) is probably best known as co-writer of sci-fi epic Aelita (1924) and director of Soviet classic Miss Mend (1926). His work in Europe and America is harder to see, and the whole lot is rarely grouped together for consideration as a whole, the curse of itinerant filmmakers like Dassin, Siodmak, even Ophüls.
To decide whether this is merely a quirk of film history, or a full-on case of major artistic neglect, simply watch this clip:
Amok (1934) is the third of Ozep's Pathé-Natan films, and the most baroque. It's based on a story by Stefan Zweig (Letter from an Unknown Woman) later filmed in Mexico with less fidelity but plenty of gusto. It's a very weird orientalist fever dream.
Tony then agrees to do the job, but not because he wants the money. He wants to hit he jeweler’s safe instead, not the outside window. We are then introduced to Cesar (Perlo Vita, better known as the director Jules Dassin), a master safe cracker from Milan and a colleague of Mario’s. They then plan the heist meticulously,
Une si Jolie Petite Plage (Such a Pretty Little Beach, 1949) stars Gérard Philipe as a young man somewhat lethargically on the run after killing the wealthy older chanteuse who had been keeping him (the film is oddly uninterested in the motives that led to this murder, and nobody except the police seem to think any the less of him for it. Curious and slightly sinister).
For his hideout, Philipe chooses, with fatalistic perversity, the seaside hotel where he first met his eventual victim, where he simply checks in and awaits developments,
As featured in our Paris city guide
Les Enfants du Paradis, Marcel Carné, 1943-45
Penned by poet Jacques Prévert and featuring the enigmatic Arletty, dashing Pierre Brasseur and melancholic Jean-Louis Barrault, Les Enfants du Paradis takes place in Paris in the 1840s and tells the story of the contrarian love of Garance and Baptiste. One key scene takes place in the boulevard du Temple, known at the time as boulevard du Crime. "You smiled at me! Don't deny it, you smiled at me. Ah, life's beautiful and so are you. And now, I shall never leave your side. Where are we going? What! We've only been together for two minutes and already you want to leave me. When will I see you again?
I want to print every image from this film on a T-shirt! And then I want to wear them all at once, and, by ruppling my powerful chest muscles in an Incredibly Hulky fashion, cause them to shred and disintegrate, starting with the outer layers, since they will be the most over-stretched.
In this manner will I cause an animated flickbook to appear on my chest,
Although the basic heist film narrative has proved to be popular worldwide, it has particularly flourished in the UK and France in particular, with a number of notable productions coming out of these countries. Below are ten heist films that combine the best elements of this sub genre, as we pit the U.S., U.K. and France against each other in a quest to find the best heist film out there!
10. The Day They Robbed The Bank Of England
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