Du rififi chez les hommes (Jules Dassin, 1955)
A band of French gangsters plan a heist to rob for 240 millions of francs worth of jewelries. This pretty film is regarded as widely influential on the French New Wave with its two jump cuts. It also was a clear influence on Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing and Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs. The scene at the middle of the film setting in details the robbery was made without any dialogues and the omnipresent music of composer Georges Auric. It is rumored that the techniques pictured in Rififi was used many times by robbers from all around the world.
It was one of Jules Dassin French films that is clearly influenced by his American period. His mise en scène and storytelling techniques are deeply American and in a certain way reminiscent of Film noir. There’s a sense of doom in the eyes of every character in Rififi and it is deeper than in the fact that they are gangsters. They know that if they don’t make it their time is counted.
This intense need to live and stand firm in front of their fear is also typical like the loyalty of gangsters together. They are outlaws but they play inside the rules of their underworld. There’s a great suspense with the moralistic ending of this tale of bad guys.
Well, it is quite clear that it was a game changer in the world of films and might be one of the most influential film for directors more than for the audiences. However, it has been lately criticized for its co-called too moralistic ending and turn of events. Especially, Jean0Luc Godard among others has been very harsh on Dassin’s film and for him Jean-Pierre Melville’s films were better films in their ensemble.
Finally, Rififi is one of the most entertaining movies about heists that is felt to be in direct line with other films like Ocean’s Eleven, both versions. Recommended.