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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

No More Dasein for Dassin.

posted by on April 1 at 12:29 PM

The man who created the greatest heist sequence in all of cinema (it’s in Rififi) is now dead to us and himself.

American film director Jules Dassin has died in an Athens hospital after a short illness, at the age of 96.

Blacklisted in Hollywood after WWII, he went to Europe where he married the late Greek actress and later culture minister Melina Mercouri…

Mr Dassin was born in the US state of Connecticut on 18 December 1911.

He worked as an actor and theatre producer before becoming an assistant to film director Alfred Hitchcock.

He was active in leftist politics and in the early 1950s his promising Hollywood career was cut short when he was named as a communist and blacklisted.

He met Ms Mercouri at the Cannes Film Festival in 1955 where he won the best director prize for his film Rififi. Its long heist sequence, without dialogue, became a template for many later crime capers

And now for a special, special treat: the trailer for Rififi, a film that was made in 1955, in Paris, and described by one critic as having “enough raw sex to elevate every eyebrow.” (Erecting eyebrows was a big deal back then.)

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Rififi owns--but when that chick sings the Rififi song, I'm pretty sure she adds another "fi" to it, which annoyed me. Or maybe I was stoned and I'm entirely wrong. Stoned in Film History...yep. Sounds about right.

Posted by Mr. Poe | April 1, 2008 12:31 PM

And Richard Widmark (star of Dassin's Noir classic Night and the City) just died last week. It's kind of funny that two of the giants of Film Noir lived such long and seemingly happy lives.

Posted by kinaidos | April 1, 2008 12:35 PM

I just bought The Naked City, Night and the City, and Brute Force a couple weeks ago. I'll have to go back and Rififi.

Posted by elswinger | April 1, 2008 12:42 PM

Huh. 96. That's a good run. (Coincidentally, I was watching Topkapi last night). Maybe he wasn't so happy...his only son died young...the suave, melodic singer, Joe Dassin.

Posted by l'ete indien | April 1, 2008 12:46 PM

Damn, that's a fine movie.

Posted by Paulus | April 1, 2008 1:21 PM

Sigh. He wasn't just "active in leftist politics", he was a Communist. Period. Rififi was a great film (I own the DVD), but it's irritating that everybody still whitewashes the politics of that whole Stalinist crowd. Triumph of the Will was a great film too, but I don't think too many people wrote Leni Reifenstall was "active in right-wing politics" instead of that she was simply a Nazi.

Posted by Kim Scarborough | April 1, 2008 1:39 PM

"Rififi" at least is one of the top ten cops and robbers movies ever made, and arguably the best.

Posted by ivan | April 1, 2008 3:01 PM

@6 Thank you for pointing out that JD was a communist. I didn't know that. However, it seems reductionist to imply that all communists are the same as Stalinists and are all the same the way all Nazis were Nazi's. Communism has been too broad a movement with many variants to be considered all the same as the policies of Stalin.

Yup, Rafifi was a great film. I was under the impression it was banned here for a long time because its' depiction of junkie kidnappers was too harsh for American audiences of the time.

Posted by LMSW | April 1, 2008 8:13 PM

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