Monday, March 31, 2008

Jules Dassin Dies, But Never On Sunday

Jules Dassin died Monday at the age of 96.

Like Richard Widmark, whom he directed in Night and the City, Dassin is someone whose reputation was hugely enhanced by the renewed popularity of film noir. He made some great American postwar noirs and noir-ish films, and when work dried up in the U.S. due to the blacklist, he took the American noir style to France and made Du Rififi Chez Les Hommes, which completely revolutionized crime movies all over the world.

Rififi wasn't the first heist movie -- The Asphalt Jungle and The Lavender Hill Mob among other films had done something similar -- but its success made the "caper" movie, where the main focus is on an elaborate plan and how it plays out (and specifically how things don't go quite as planned), hugely popular for the next 15 or 20 years. Movies like The Pink Panther or shows like Mission: Impossible wouldn't exist without Dassin's film.


Michael Sporn said...

Topkapi was the first time I'd heard of him. A lot of good films opened for me once I'd learned his name. He was a great director.

I didn't know he'd died. Thanks for the information.

Caftan Woman said...

I guess we can't complain about 96 years, but it's always sad news to hear. I saw "Night and the City" at Cinemateque Ontario last year and I'd really like to see more of his stuff on the big screen. I'll wager "The Naked City" would be impressive on that scale.