Rififi. Directed by Jules Dassin. Screenplay by Jules Dassin, Auguste Le Breton, René Wheeler. With Jean Servais, Carl Möhner, Robert Manuel, Magali Noël, Jules Dassin (billed as “Perlo Vita”). Music by Georges Auric. 35mm. In French; English subtitles. 118 min.
Blacklisted American director Dassin found refuge in France, where his first film was this international hit, a sleek, cynical heist thriller inspired by The Asphalt Jungle and spiced up with the inventive underworld slang of novelist Auguste Le Breton. Fresh out of prison, tough guy Jean Servais gets right to work planning the perfect heist, enlisting old cronies Möhner and Manuel and Italian safecracker “César the Milanais” (Dassin himself, in a charming, pantomimed performance). The resulting 30-minute heist sequence, without dialogue or music, has become a blueprint for the genre. An international sensation, Riffi won Dassin the Best Director Prize at Cannes. Lenny Borger’s flavorful subtitles for Rialto, including the first-ever English translation of the title song, were endorsed by director Dassin. “The best Film Noir I’ve ever seen” (François Truffaut)