15 For 15: Celebrating Rialto Pictures

Rififi

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Rififi
Du rififi chez les hommes | Jules Dassin, 1955
France | 118m minutes

In the most popular and celebrated French film noir of all time, blacklisted American Jules Dassin transforms pulp writer Auguste le Breton’s popular potboiler into a riveting existential thriller that set the template for all heist movies to come. Back on the street following a five-year prison sentence, jewel thief Tony le Stéphanois (grizzled character actor Jean Servais) is quickly approached by old friends Jo (Carl Möhner) and Mario (Robert Manuel) about helping them to rob a famous jewelry shop’s elaborate show window. Instead, Tony proposes that they raid the safe, thus setting the stage for the film’s masterful, 30-minute centerpiece (based on an actual 1899 burglary in Marseille), staged without a single word of dialogue or note of music. (That’s Dassin himself, credited under a pseudonym, as safecracker César.) The heist goes off without a hitch, but not so the aftermath, especially once a local gangster sweet on Tony’s ex-girlfriend starts to play his cards. Take it from François Truffaut, who famously noted, “"Out of the worst crime novels I ever read, Jules Dassin has made the best crime film I've ever seen."

Series: 15 For 15: Celebrating Rialto Pictures

Venue: Walter Reade Theater

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