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September 7, 2010

Rififi (1955)
Director: Jules Dassin
Actors: Jean Servais, Carl Mohner, Robert Manuel

Synopsis: Four men plan the perfect crime. But human error intervenes….

Review: This is a thrilling Fifties French heist movie that was both an inheritor of certain tropes from classic film noir, as well as an early beacon to Hollywood’s obsession with the crime flick through the latter decades of the Twentieth Century. The movie for the most part deserves its reputation, and particularly appealing is its old-fashioned aesthetic with an emphasis in the heist on manpower and wit over technology and heavy artillery. The filmmaking idiom does have a patchwork feel that may jar the more discerning viewer, particularly the rather abrupt shifts in tone from understated observation to excessive stylisation. This is most apparent in the bizarre, expressionistic ending when Dassin cranks up the tension as Le Stephanois’ criminal returns a captured child to his mother, while bleeding to death. (September 2005)

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