Jules Dassin

April 7, 2011

Jules Dassin

Dassin was blacklisted because he refused to name names. He was put in that position by people like director Edward Dmytryk who wanted to save their own hides. Dassin made some important films, and in an odd way the black list helped him (at least in the long run).

Brute Force – Sweet old Hume Cronyn is a baddy in this one.
The Naked City – There’s a million stories in the city, and this is one of them (ironically, none involve nudity). Dassin and company shot on location in New York City in a documentary style. Unique for it’s time.
Rififi – Jules made this while living in France after he’d been blacklisted. This is the first Dassin I’d seen and for a long time I thought he was a French filmmaker (the interweb didn’t exist back then for me to check out his stats). This film earned its place in cinema history for having the greatest heist sequence ever. Often imitated but never topped. It’s a nearly 30 minute section of the film with no dialogue as the thieves pull off their caper.
Topkapi – A little dated (and by “a little,” I mean a lot). Dassin rips himself off by having a very clever heist as the centerpiece. Peter Ustinov is great in his Oscar winning role.

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