Rififi (1955)

Genres - Crime  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Thriller, Caper, Gangster Film  |   Release Date - Jul 21, 2000 (USA - Rerelease)  |   Run Time - 115 min.  |   Countries - France  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Lucia Bozzola

The pinnacle of heist movies, blacklistee Jules Dassin's Du Rififi Chez Les Hommes (1955) is not only one of the best French noirs, but one of the top movies in the genre. Crafting an archetypal noir story about how human weakness can sabotage the best-laid plans, Dassin masterfully emphasizes the skill and nerve-shredding delicacy that it takes for the central band of thieves to execute those intricate plans (without making a sound) in the classic half-hour heist sequence. The air of seediness and inevitable doom that lingers over the proceedings -- shot on location in Paris -- adds an existential weight to the suspense, turning Rififi into more than just a caper. Though Rififi's all-too-clear primer on how to rob a jewelry store and its then-excessive violence and decadence got the film in trouble in some countries, Rififi became an oft-imitated international hit and Cannes prizewinner for Dassin's direction. Barely seen in the U.S. since its original release, Rififi was restored to its full 35 mm visual glory in 2000, complete with new, more explicit subtitles (done in collaboration with Dassin) and a translation of the title song. The restoration received a special citation from the New York Film Critics Circle.