With the dramatic crime thriller RIFIFI, blacklisted American director Jules Dassin returned to the cinema triumphantly. In addition to directing, Dassin co-wrote the script and appeared (under the name Perlo Vita) as Cesar the Italian safecracker. Cesar is one of the gang formed by the gaunt Tony (Jean Sevais), who has just returned to Paris from prison. The others are family man Jo (Carl Mhner) and the ebullient Mario (Robert Manuel). The four men plan a jewelry heist--and the almost 30-minute long robbery scene at the center of the film has become one of the cinema's classic sequences. They break into an upstairs apartment, tie up the couple who live there, and smash through the floor--carefully collecting the debris in an umbrella. Then, they lower themselves into the jewelry store, drill through the safe, and return the way they came. Dassin forgoes both music and dialogue as he shows the robbery in meticulous detail--and the sequence is riveting. The gang has barely completed the job, when unplanned incidents threaten, the police appear unexpectedly, a rival gang gets wind of the robbery, there is a kidnapping, and in the skullduggery that follows, only the honor of the gang survives.
Cannes Best Director 1955 Jules Dassin American Director/Blacklisted, RIFIFI (1954), TOPKAPI (1964)