Jules Dassin created the heist film when he turned a novel he hated into RIFIFI. The American director had made his name with films noir like The Naked City (1948) and Night and the City (1950) only to end up on the Hollywood blacklist. After four years of unemployment, he was glad to accept any job but not too happy to take on Auguste Le Breton’s sordid tale of four North Africans mixed up in Paris’ criminal underworld. Then he hit on the idea of focusing on a minor part of the novel, the intricately planned robbery of a jewelry store’s safe. He also made the characters French (because of strained relations between France and Algeria). The result was an international hit that re-established him as a major director and made him rich thanks to a profit-participation deal. The film’s most famous sequence is the 28-minute heist scene, played without a line of dialogue or a note of music, still one of the most nerve-racking sequences on film. RIFIFI has been imitated by everyone from Steven Soderbergh in Ocean’s Eleven (2001) to Dassin himself with Topkapi (1964). Long available only in muddy video transfers, RIFIFI will screen in a digital restoration courtesy of Rialto Pictures making its world premiere.
(d. Jules Dassin, 122m, Digital)
World Premiere Restoration Courtesy of Rialto Pictures