by Jim Nintzel
You've got two chances this week to see Rififi on the big screen at the Loft Cinema: Sunday, June 12, at 1 p.m. and Tuesday, June 14, at 7 p.m. Both screenings are free, although The Loft does suggest you consider a $5 donation.
Here's the Loft's summary:
RIFIFI, Jules Dassin's 1955 masterpiece of French film noir, is the stunningly gritty and devilishly entertaining crime thriller that served as the classic blueprint for pretty much every heist film that has followed in its sizable wake.
Blacklisted Hollywood exile Dassin - raised in the Bronx - went to France and turned a Spillane-esque potboiler by Auguste le Breton into an existential heist film that earned him the Best Director prize at Cannes and set the standard for screen robberies for decades to come. Jean Servais is poker-faced gangster Tony Le Stéphanois, back from prison after taking a rap for Jo le Suédois (Carl Möhner), and ready to settle a few scores. First up is former mistress Mado (Marie Sabouret), whom he strips and whips in one of the most shocking scenes of any era; then it's on to masterminding a jewelry heist with comrades Möhner, Robert Manuel, and safecracker "César the Milanese" (director Dassin himself using the pseudonym "Perlo Vita") before the gang is undone by crime and circumstance.
A worldwide smash, RIFIFI was one of the first films to transcend the crime genre with its groundbreaking juxtaposition of sudden violence, casual humor, and unsavory sexual situations, as well as its generally amoral outlook - including the depiction of a drug addict and the realistic depiction of criminal methodology - all of which led to its condemnation by the Legion of Decency, its outright banning in several countries, and an enduring place in the pantheon of Film Noir. The famous robbery scene - a tense 30-minute sequence without dialogue or music - went on to become an obvious influence on countless films, including Reservoir Dogs and Mission: Impossible 2, and the word "Rififi" was subsequently stolen for titles of various non-related thrillers. Featuring gorgeous location shooting and silky black and white cinematography that perfectly captures Paris in the '50s, RIFIFI is a one-of-a-kind thriller that has yet to be topped.