Saturday, July 24, 2010

RIFIFI (French) (1955)

“Modern heist movie was invented in Paris in 1955 by Jules Dassin, with ‘Rififi’ and in 1956 by Jean Pierre Melville, with ‘Bob le Flambeur.”
- Roger Ebert

In Jules Dassin’s ‘Rififi’ there’s around 30 minutes engrossing jewel heist sequence of safecracking ever filmed on screen since invention of Motion pictures; it’s without a single word or background score which made me feel that it’s the Baap of all heist films came after this. Infact Dassin has constructed it so meticulously that it’s said that Paris Police briefly banned the film because they feared it was instructional guide for unthinkable robbery. It earned him Best Director trophy at Cannes in 1955.

This is my first Dassin film and he’s outstanding revelation for me; and I thought Melville is the only Master of great film noires. Everything here is pitch perfect- screenplay, casting, performances, dialogues, sets and few real locations of Paris. Dassin built his whole film from beginning to end with crispy breathless tension with brilliant B&W cinematography showing everything one demands from great noire. Suspense, brutality and dark humor fixed with an alcoholic middle aged Master with band of smart ass professionals, Poker game, night club, cabaret, cleavage showing damsels, Italian mob boss, heist, kidnapping, revenge etc. etc.

Infact prior to heist sequence he crafted the whole framework showing his detailing which range from close observation of affairs on the road and street noted with precise timing, fool proof planning by making duplicate main door key to dysfunction the foolproof alarm with something out of our mind. Watch the way they used hammer with soft guard and umbrella in the hole is just awesome ideas!!
Francois Trauffaut called ‘Rififi’ the best film noire he’d ever seen(on the wrost crime novels he he’d ever read!) and after watching it I have to absolutely agree with his opinion.

The film has stellar performance by Jean Servais as Tony which can give any of Bogart classics a tough fight. The rest of supporting actors especially Jo, Mario, Grutter and above all the safecracker Cesar played by no other than Dassin stamped it as great film. It gives me the feeling of watching ‘Casablanca’ of film noire.

Undoubtedly the best and brilliant heist film of all-time.


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