If you love heist films then tune into TCM Tuesday at 9:45 p.m., May 22, for perhaps the greatest of them all, Rififi (1954).
Directed by the legendary Jules Dassin (who co-wrote) this film is considered the granddaddy of all caper/heist movies. It centers on a quartet of French jewel thieves who find each other more dangerous than the cops. The burglary sequence itself is famous for being in complete silence. It is scripted by director Dassin, Rene Wheeler, and Auguste LeBreton from LeBreton's novel.
Jules Dassin–in his second European film after being driven out of the United States during the years of the house Un-American Activities Committee hearings–directed this landmark caper film about the planning and execution of a nighttime robbery at a swanky English jewelry shop in the Rue de Rivoli.
The story concerns a collection of thieves who band together to commit a seemingly impossible robbery. The gang consists of a tough, straight-talker named Tony Stephanois (Jean Servais); a young man under Tony's tutelage named Jo (Carl Mohner; a happy-go-lucky Italian by the name of Mario Farrati (Robert Manuel); and a safecracker named Cesar (the director Jules Dassin under the pseudonym of Perlo Vita) who likes to juggle the combinations of women in his off hours.
The set piece of the film is an intricate 28-minute sequence that depicts the robbery in detail–all filmed silently without dialogue or music. After the success of the robbery, the gang barely has time to celebrate when a rival gangster, Pierre Gruuter (Marcel Lupovici), decides that he wants a cut of the take. When Tony's gang refuses to cooperate, Pierre kidnaps Jo's son, and the gang has to get tough with their nemesis.
To learn more about Jules Dassin check out my article on him. I was fortunate enought to have gotten one of the last interviews Mr. Dassin gave. The link is:
Sandi Berg is also a freelance journalist and writes about television for several magazines including "Written By" (Writer's Guild of America), "Life After 50" and "Whole Life Times Magazine."