Thursday, July 15, 2010

#115: Rififi

(Jules Dassin, 1955)

There's a great interview with Dassin on the DVD for Rififi in which he tells a story about showing the film to a friend of his right after finishing it, being unsure of how the film would play. The first thing his friend said to him was, "Make this movie for the rest of your life." That's when Dassin knew the movie might be pretty good.

I hadn't seen Rififi for over ten years when I watched it this week. I remembered it being a great movie, but I didn't really remember just how good it was. Rififi is a perfect film, the kind of movie that is made maybe four or five times a decade, the kind of movie that will never, I mean never, did I mention NEVER, be surpassed as the greatest heist film ever made.

But really, that might be underselling the film. The climactic race through the streets of Paris is one of the great moments in cinema history - and that's not even discussing the heist itself. Both scenes, actually, have no dialog, and could have been made (though less efficiently) in the silent era and been just as effective. Yet the movie also thrills at every point in between, and dwells in both low and high art so effortlessly that it's hard to imagine a more perfect representation of the film's synthesis of American and French filmmaking. Quite simply, Rififi is one of the best movies on Criterion, an undeniable masterpiece.

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