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The Scroll

No. 52: Rififi

Banned in Hollywood, a Harlem Jew makes good in Paris

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1955, dir. Jules Dassin. Go easy on the elongated Gallic vowel sounds when pronouncing the name “Jules Dassin.” Contrary to popular belief, the auteur behind the classic caper movie Rififi was not a Frenchman: He was a Jew from Harlem who was blacklisted from McCarthy-era Hollywood, moved to Paris, and, cinematically speaking, went native. Dassin’s masterpiece was this moody 1955 noir about a band of thieves who knock over a Rue de Rivoli jewelry shop. It’s highlighted by the ne plus ultra of heist sequences—almost a half-hour long, mostly silent, shot without dialogue or music: so good it was later imitated by actual criminals.

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Love Dassin, but the famous robbery scene in Riffifi is lifted almost shot by shot from Me and My Gal, 1932, dir. Raoul Walsh

2000

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No. 52: Rififi

Banned in Hollywood, a Harlem Jew makes good in Paris

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