|RIFIFI (DU RIFIFI CHEZ LES HOMMES) (director/writer: Jules Dassin; screenwriters: based on the novel by Auguste Le Breton/Renee Wheeler; cinematographer: Philippe Agostini; editor: Roger Dwyre; music: Georges Auric; cast: Jean Servais (Tony le Stephanois), Carl Mohner (Jo le Suedois), Robert Manuel (Mario Ferrati), Perlo Vita/Jules Dassin (Cesar le Milanais), Marie Sabouret (Mado), Janine Darcey (Louise), Claude Sylvain (Ida Ferrati), Marcel Lupovici (Pierre Grutter), Robert Hossein (Remi Grutter), Pierre Grasset (Louis Grutter), Magali Nol (Viviane), Dominique Maurin (Tonio), Emile Genevois (Charlie, drug dealer), Teddy Bilitis (The Fence, Teddy--The Levantine); Runtime: 118; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Henri Berard; The Criterion Collection; 1955-France-in French with English subtitles)|
father of all caper films."
by Dennis Schwartz
father of all caper films. It's a classic that's
shot in black and white, and has a snazzy score by Georges
Auric. It's noted for its 33-minutes of
silence during the break-in heist, where the gang of
four ex-cons cut their way into the Mappin
& Webb jewelry store in Paris from an
apartment building next door to steal diamonds. It
has spawned scores of imitators through the decades.
Dassin ("The Naked City"/"Brute
Force"/"Night and the City") is the blacklisted
American director (former member in the Communist
Party, who refused to name names to HUAC), and lives
in exile in France. Dassin does a nice job adapting the
tawdry pulp-fiction novel by Auguste Le Breton into a
classy low-budget film noir and co-writes the
screenplay with Renee Wheeler. The title is an
argot for trouble. It was a box office smash in
France. Critics praised it, and said the atmospheric
and tense crime thriller was much better than the
le Stephanois (Jean Servais) is a
tubercular ex-con just released from prison and is
embittered that he's broke after serving a five-year
stretch for bank robbery, and is reunited with a
former bank robber--the family man criminal Jo
le Suedois (Carl Mohner),
grateful Tony never ratted him out to
get a reduced sentence. Reluctant at first to
rob a secure jewelry store with Jo and Mario
Ferrati (Robert Manual), Tony changes his mind when
he learns his ex-wife Mado (Marie
Sabouret), who took all his money, is
now with the ruthless club owner of the L'Age D'Or,
Remi Grutter (Robert Hossein).
Mario brings into the gang Italian countryman
safe-cracker Cesar le Milanais (Perlo
Vita, pseudonym for Jules Dassin), a
womanizer who speaks no French. Meanwhile Tony
orders Jo to arrange for an English fence, Teddy
(Teddy Bilitis), to take the hot diamonds, worth
over 200 million dollars, off their hands.
the heist is successfully carried out, things turn
ugly through the unwitting betrayal of one of the
robbers and it ends in bloodshed. It can be viewed
as both an 'honor among thieves' theme code film and
a 'crime does not pay' message film.
Dassin won Best Director at Cannes that year.
REVIEWED ON 1/22/2114 GRADE: B+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ