After making such American noir classics as The Naked City and Brute Force, blacklisted director Jules Dassin went to Paris and embarked on his masterpiece: a twisting, turning tale of four ex-cons who hatch one last glori... more »ous heist in the City of Lights. At once naturalistic and expressionistic, this melange of suspense, brutality, and dark humor was an international hit and earned Dassin the Best Director prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Criterion is proud to present Rififi in a pristine digital transfer.« less
"After something of a dry spell, Criterion has finally released a bunch of great DVDs this month. Their edition of "Rififi" - while probably not as well known as their mammoth "Spartacus" release - deserves a lot of praise. They've included an interview with the director, Jules Dassin (still alive at 90 years) and their remastered print has the stark clarity - and beauty - of the work they did on "The Third Man." "Rififi" is almost the same caliber of "The Third Man." Its a crime story - its about a quartet of thieves who after pulling off a daring robbery (the robbery itself is an wonderfully extended silent sequence) and it has a lot of the "late-noir" ambience that the "Third Man" and "Touch of Evil" have. Jean Sevrais is fantastic as the ringleader although the film lacks the real dynamic characterizations that make "The Third Man" so compelling. Since "Rififi" has been made in so many incarnations - including "Reservoir Dogs" - its a bit predictable as well.Still, "Rififi" is a wonderful film - an American noir (directed by an expatriate American living in France) that's been perfectly recast into its French surroundings. Buy, watch, and savour."
wdanthemanw | Geneva, Switzerland | 05/16/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Jules Dassin does have a seat of choice in the gallery of Movie History. The movies he directed in Hollywood in the late forties are now classics and his courage under the Mc Carthy era demands our utmost respect. Exiled in France, he directed RIFIFI aka " Du Rififi Chez Les Hommes " in 1954 based on a Série Noire novel of Auguste le Breton. And it's simply one of the best films noirs ever made. Jean Servais is perfect as a french Bogart marked by tuberculosis, Robert Hossein, in his first role, terrifying as a drug addict tougher than George Raft and Jules Dassin himself, in the role of an italian bad guy, very convincing. Add a wonderful singing act of Magali Noël, the french starlet of the sixties, the great Alexandre - The Children of Paradise - Trauner as art director and the 30 minutes anthology scene, without musical score nor dialogs, of the robbery and you have a movie you can't neglect if you are a true movie lover. The copy presented in this Criterion DVD release is definitive and the 25 minutes interview with Jules Dassin a bonus feature very appreciated. There is also the choice between the french subtitled version and a dubbed version for the lazy ones. How can you still hesitate ! Go, buy and be happy. A DVD zone your library."
New Printing Sees a Perfect Transfer
Robert Bezimienny | Sydney, NSW Australia | 12/08/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In an earlier review, I criticised the sound synchronisation - well, Criterion have rectified this problem in the current second printing. This information can be found at Criterion's revamped website, Criterionco.com, which is now very informative - there is a page devoted to known problems, and a page where you can alert them to any new problems you find; also you can ask general questions.
Technically, now, this film transfer is outstanding - the picture is superbly clear, better in fact than a restored print recently screened in Sydney.
For me, the film itself gets better with each viewing. Kind of amazing considering this is overtly a suspense thriller, where not knowing the outcome should be crucial - perhaps this reveals that it is more a character study, particularly a rumination on a character accepting his fate, a fate portrayed as virtually predestined. Also there is a sense that Dassin delights in the making of this picture - his performance as Cesare the Milanese is similarly brimming with enthusiastic charm. The production design by Alexandre Trauner (Les Enfants du Paradis) is another factor in allowing enjoyment to grow with each viewing - the film looks wonderful. There's a sense that each carefully considered part of the film is necessary, and that to change any would be to the detriment of the film as a whole - a little like the feeling inspired by a great musical symphony; possibly it's a little ironic then that the one questionable element is the title song! In the notes, Dassin is said to have rued his dismissal of an alternative, and at the time largely unknown, songwriter - Charles Aznavour!
It is also amazing to think that for decades this film was rarely available for public screening and not obtainable on video. It deserves to be seen by everyone with a love of cinema. A truly great film."
Oh ! the sound !
Dick Jenssen | Carnegie, VICTORIA Australia | 09/21/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is not a review, but rather a word or two about the terrible problems with the sound synchronisation.
The film itself is one of the greats in the genre of crime thriller, and so it is a criminal shame that Criterion have released the film with a French soundtrack well and truly out of synch with the action.
However - there are NO, repeat, NO - such problems with the English language (dubbed) soundtrack !
So - you have the choice of either suffering the sound problems (but getting the original language and thus a better psychological ambience) or suffering the dubbed English (but having the sound effects in synch).
Either way, if you are a devotee of films, or just heist movies, this is a Must-Have !
The DVD would score five stars if Criterion ever get around to releasing it with the sound problems fixed..."
Superb film noir on DVD
W. Oliver | Alabama | 08/20/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
""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."