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Rififi (The Criterion Collection)

Jean Servais , Carl Möhner , Jules Dassin    Unrated   DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
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Hollywood's loss was Europe's gain when Jules Dassin fled America because of the House Un-American Activities Committee blacklist at the end of the 1940s. His films helped bring the moral ambiguity of the postwar American thriller to Europe, inspiring a new generation of critics and filmmakers. Writing several years before he made The 400 Blows, François Truffaut praised Dassin for the way his films "combin[ed] the documentary approach with lyricism," a method that would inform many of the new wave films of the '60s.

Rififi, shot on the rainy streets of Paris, is imbued with the same gritty realism that marked Dassin's earlier work in New York (The Naked City) and London (Night and the City). Jean Servais plays Tony le Stéphanois, an aging crook whose thin lips and tired, seen-it-all eyes give him a look somewhere between Humphrey Bogart and Harry Dean Stanton. Out of jail after a five-year stretch, he joins up with a couple of pals to pull one last heist: a jewel robbery that is portrayed in such detail (including tips on how to silence an alarm using a fire extinguisher) that the film was banned in several countries.

The robbery sequence alone, which lasts for 30 minutes and is played entirely without dialogue, would be enough to ensure Rififi's classic status, but there's a lot more to enjoy, including terrific performances from Marie Sabouret as Tony's world-weary ex-girlfriend, and from Dassin himself as a dandified Italian safecracker with an eye for the ladies. After the thrill of the heist, in the film's final scenes when, with the inevitability of the best films noirs everything falls apart, Dassin achieves the lyricism that Truffaut admired so much. By combining the conventions of a caper movie with his own brand of bleak nihilism, he made Rififi into a film that deserves to be counted among the best ever made.--Simon Leake

Special Features

New 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray Interview with director Jules Dassin Set design drawings by Alexandre Trauner Production stills Trailer Optional English-dubbed soundtrack One Blu-ray and one DVD, with all content available in both formats PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic J. Hoberman

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb film noir on DVD Aug. 20 2003
Format:DVD
"Rififi", made in France in 1954, was a groundbreaking film at the time of its release and still holds up well today. It is a film about a caper heist and the 28 minute jewelry store robbery, filmed with no dialog or music, is the highlight of the film. However, the film offers much more. The actors are all superb and memorable. Director Jules Dassin had a very small budget and had to use lesser known actors. Jean Servais, gaunt and haggard after years of alcoholism is perfect as Tony, the leader of the gang. Dassin himself plays Cesare, the safe cracker whose careless indiscretions following the robbery spoils their "perfect crime". The film also features superb cinematographer, gritty and stark, and the city of Paris becomes a character in itself. Dassin would only film outdoor scenes on cloudy and rainy days which gives the film a documentary-type feel.
Criterion's DVD release is superb. The print is flawless, as far as I could tell on my 35" screen, and I could not see any flaws or distractions. This is the original un-cut version of the film. The film was initially condemned by the Catholic Church in the U.S. and slapped with a "C" rating. It was then released with 3 scenes edited and a Bible verse flashed onto the screen before the opening credits! This is the version Dassin intented without the cuts or the Bible verse. A dubbed version is included for those who dislike reading sub-titles.
Other extras include an essay, trailer, and a 30 minute interview with Jules Dassin which was filmed in the summer of 2000. Dassin talks about the blacklist, which ended his career in Hollywood in the early 50s, and about the making of "Rififi" in France and how it ressurected his career.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Instead of May 10 2004
By A Customer
Format:DVD
reading the re-hashes of the plot below (so many people still don't understand what "review" means), and the one person who dubbed it "Boring" (find another past time, OK?), check out the reviews that really talk about this film, and then treat yurself and buy it. YOu won't be disappointed. It's a true classic.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Edge of your seat excitement ! Oct. 22 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This film is about how how a gang breaks into a bank in Paris. A very tense, silent, 20 minute sequence as the safe is cracked.
Subsequent falling out of the thieves. French dialogue, Black and White, Produced mid 1950's
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stylish and Thrilling Dec 2 2003
Format:DVD
"Rififi" is a terrific heist movie, and one from which subsequent heist films have drawn ever since. Jules Dassin had a feel for the seedy underworld in which these thieves live---you will not find here the Hollywood glamour of "Ocean's Eleven." The robbers in "Rififi" don't rob for the thrill, and they're not playing a game. They rob to survive, to pay for their children's upbringing, to prove to themselves and others that they still have something to offer the world.
The much-lauded heist scene is a nail biter, filmed in virtual silence. I did have the feeling that the plot went on a bit longer than it needed to, but the high-speed race to deliver the child to his mother that ends the film is classic.
Be warned---this movie is very bleak. But it's also very good.
Grade: A-
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Classic, But Not Perfect April 23 2002
Format:DVD
Beautiful, and a great movie through the completion of the caper (which is rightly praised as one of the "fathers" of most heist scenes), but the stupid "mistakes" made after the caper by members of the gang may spoil the enjoyment of those not watching as film buffs, but rather as people wanting to be entertained. (SPOILERS ALERT) The premiere safecracker who doesn't know not to spend some of the take the SAME DAY as the heist? After members of the gang are murdered, the rest of the gang doesn't think to safeguard their families? Tony the supreme planner doesn't make an agreement with Jo about waiting for his call? Sorry, WAY too many mistakes for such "pros".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Be careful! Aug. 21 2001
By A Customer
Format:DVD
Just watched Rififi on DVD from a local rental house prior to buying a copy. Guess what! The whole damn thing is out of sync by 1/2 second. Didn't even notice until they started using the hammers in the heist. Went back through it... everything! gunshots et.al. Check your copy!
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By J. Lovins TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:DVD
The Criterion Collection presents "RIFIFI" (1955) (122 min/B&W) (Fully Restored/Dolby Digitally Remastered) -- A landmark caper film about the planning and execution of a nighttime robbery at a swanky English jewelry shop in the Rue de Rivoli --- The story concerns a collection of thieves who band together to commit a seemingly impossible robbery --- The gang consists of a tough, straight-talker Tony Stephanois (Jean Servais); a young man under Tony's tutelage Jo le Suedois (Carl Mohner); a happy-go-lucky Italian Mario Farrati (Robert Manuel); and a safe cracker, Cesar --- The set piece of the film is an intricate 28-minute sequence that depicts the robbery in detail all filmed silently without dialogue or music --- After the success of the robbery, the gang barely has time to celebrate when a rival gangster, Pierre Gruuter (Marcel Lupovici), decides that he wants a cut of the take --- When Tony's gang refuses to cooperate, Pierre kidnaps Jo's son, and the gang has to get tough with their nemesis.

Special footnote: This film is in French (spoken) language with English subtitles --- A wonderful film, falls into the genre of "film noir", which Dassin is the master in story board and direction.

Under the production staff of:
Jules Dassin [Director]
Auguste Le Breton [Novel]
Jules Dassin [Adaptation]
René Wheeler [Screenwriter]
Auguste Le Breton [Screenwriter/Dialogue]]
Henri Bérard [Producer]
René Bezard .[Producer]
Pierre Cabaud [Producer]
Georges Auric [Original Film Music]
Philippe Agostini [Cinematographer]
Roger Dwyre [Film Editor]

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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Rififi needs editing? Hardly.
Rififi needs editing? Hardly. Rififi needs nothing but bowing down to. Some college Joes from Collegeville need editing. The permanent kind. Read more
Published on June 23 2004
3.0 out of 5 stars Needs Editing
I'm sure film school buffs, Tarrentino too, thought this movie great simply becaue it cost so little. Read more
Published on June 16 2004 by R. A Rubin
5.0 out of 5 stars The best french film noir in the fifties
Who can doubt the huge contribution that USA gave the world with films as Witness for prosecution, Pick up on South Sreet , Asphalt jungle or the Killing in this creative... Read more
Published on May 3 2004 by Hiram Gomez Pardo
4.0 out of 5 stars *Rififi* means Trouble!
French interpretation of classic 40's American film noirs. (The gang of criminals plan a heist while drinking cafe au lait instead of bourbon. Read more
Published on Aug. 15 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars oui oui noir
In my opinion, one of the five best noir films ever made. If you haven't seen it, rent this one now. Read more
Published on Jan. 12 2002 by Patty K.
5.0 out of 5 stars New Printing Sees a Perfect Transfer
In an earlier review, I criticised the sound synchronisation - well, Criterion have rectified this problem in the current second printing. Read more
Published on Dec 8 2001 by Robert Bezimienny
4.0 out of 5 stars Influential, leftist heist movie.
Director Jules Dassin was one of many film-makers blacklisted during the McCarthy purges of the early 1950s, and he made 'Rififi' while in European exile. Read more
Published on Oct. 19 2001 by darragh o'donoghue
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