Rififi (Du rififi chez les hommes)
Directed by Jules Dassin
Written by Jules Dassin, Rene Wheeler, and Auguste de Breton from a novel by Le Breton
Pathé Consortium Cinema/Indusfilms, Societe Nouvelle Pathe Cinema/Primafilm
This excellent heist film never loses its fascination.
Jewel thief Tony le Stephánois (Jean Servais) is released from prison looking old and ill with a persistent cough. His first stop is the home his young friend Jo shares with his new wife and young son, also named Tony. Another associate proposes that Tony lead a daylight robbery of a jewelry store show window. Tony refuses the offer. His prime goal at the moment is to get revenge on his lover Mado, who took up with evil nightclub owner Grutter while Tony was in prison.
This accomplished, Tony is ready for another job. On his terms of course. He has in mind a complex scheme to rob the jeweler’s safe. His old gang is game and one of them calls on an Italian safecracker friend of his named Cesar (Jules Dassin under the name “Perlo Vita”).
We follow the gang’s preparations and then get 32-minutes of thrilling dialogue and music-free footage of the actual heist. Can the gang sustain its plan until the bitter end?
The heist sequence of this film has never been topped. It is so completely spell-binding that one does not even notice the absence of any sound other than the dull tapping of the mallets and muffled whirr of drills. The rest of the movie is not quite on that level but Dassin shoots Paris lovingly, the acting is very good, and the jazzy score is a treat. I really can’t figure out how it missed the 1001 Movies list. Recommended.
Clip – the song “Rififi” (no subtitles)
American Trailer – dubbed (I watched a subtitled version)