by guest writer
Rififi was rigthfully considered by François Truffaut “the best film noir I’ve seen”. With a director on the run from the dictatorial abuses and false accuses made by studio executives back in the US, the film was a very hard thing to achieve, especially from its financing point of view. Jules Dassin had troubles finding the money for Rififi in an environment hostile to his movie-making. The outcome of working with a limited budget, much closer to a B movie, is nevertheless all the more impressive. The story focuses on Tony le Stéphanois (Jean Servais), an ex-con, looking for a job that will be able to sustain him and his gambling habit. In desperate need of funds, he agrees to do a heist with his dear friend Jo (Carl Möhner). The actors, not among the stars of the times, impress through their intense performances.
Rififi‘s use of “dramatic photography”, with its cutting-edge accuracy, transforms it into the perfect film noir of a nearly ending era. Its innovative and subversive style of cinematography is one of the main reasons for bringing the visual style to the highest point of delight. The actors seem to become the shadows and the lights. The music by Georges Auric adds to the atmosphere created by Phillippe Agostini’s camera work, especially in the bar scene where the band is performing on a stage in front of a questionable audience. Another notable scene that emphasizes the incredible dynamism of the film and which remains one of the most memorable scenes in the history of cinema is the real heist scene, one that is silent and which, despite of not using dialogue, keeps the tension to a peak by pure genial means of visual and editing. The forced coming of Dassin to Europe brought France one of the best movies in the country’s history, and to the continent, one of its pearls for eternity.
photo: still from the film | Pathé Consortium Cinéma, Indusfilms, Société Nouvelle Pathé Cinéma, Primafilm