"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.