Monday, December 7, 2015

Rififi (Du rififi chez les hommes) (1955) Paris Noir

Director: Jules Dassin (Night and the City 1950, Thieves' Highway 1949,  The Naked City 1948,  Brute Force  1947 ), written by Auguste Le Breton (novel), Jules Dassin (adaptation), and  René Wheeler. Cinematography is by Philippe Agostini.

The film Stars Jean Servais as the aging gangster Tony "le Stéphanois" (from Saint Etienne), Carl Möhner as Jo "le Suédois" (the Swede), Robert Manuel as Mario Farrati, and Jules Dassin as César "le Milanais" (from Millan). Rounding out the rest of the cast is Magali Noel as Viviane The  L'Âge d'Or night-club singer, Claude Sylvain as Ida: Mario Ferrati's wife,  Marcel Lupovici as Pierre Grutter: Leader of the Grutter gang and owner of the night-club L'Âge d'Or. 

Future director Robert Hossein (Cemetery Without Crosses) iplays Remi, Grutter's intense junkie brother. Marie Sabouret is Mado, Tony's ex girlfriend, Dominique Maurin is Tonio, the young son of Jo "le Suédois". Janine Darcey is Louise, Jo's wife and the mother of Tonio, and finally the film stars the City of Paris in all its Noirish glory which Dassin, who grew up in Harlem, films in a way that through a sort of universal film noir cinematic fabric equates Paris with New York City. We see American cars featured on the boulevards and underpasses, we see decaying waterfronts, we see the Parisian equivalent of els, we see the fedoras and the neon, it's Noirsville. Noir cities are all sisters under the mink. 

Backroom card game
The film is a story of the rough and tumble underword. The underworld of back room card games, of three time loosers, of junkies, loose women, nightclubs, gangsters. Tony "le Stéphanois" has just gotten out of the slammer, he did a five year stretch for a jewel robbery he pulled with Jo "le Suédois". Tony did not rat out his friend and partner in crime, but he payed a price, his high maintenace girlfriend dumped him, he's in ill health, lives in a dive, and he's on the skids, a shell of his former self. He's a man who has no juice and so gets no respect  When he runs out of cash at a poker game he can't get a stake from his fellow wise guys.  

Tony "le Stéphanois"
When Tony calls Jo for some cash, Jo comes right over he's got respect for Tony.  
Getting some respect back
Jo "le Suédois", Mario, Tony "le Stéphanois" 

Jo has a plan with his pal Mario to do a smash and grab at  the Paris equivalent of Tiffany's a Jewlery store called Mapin & Webb. They ask Tony to do the driving, but he's hesitant. Back at Jo's apartment Tony is enjoying the interaction with his adopted family, Jo's wife Louise and son Tonino, who calls him Uncle Tony. Jo receives a phone call with info about the whereabouts of Tonys old squeeze Mado. He tells Tony that she's running girls for a gangster named Grutter at the L'Âge d'Or night-club.  Tony's mood instantly changes he leaves to settle accounts 

Mappin & Webb
 Tony walking through Montmartre getting some "juice" back 

 L'Âge d'Or night club
Mado's reaction when she sees Tony

Tony in a pinstripe suit telling Mado's customer to scram 
Tony takes Mado back to his flop house apartment, tells her to take off her rings, her necklace, earings, her fur coat. He accuses her selling off all the things in their apartment and then running off to the Riviera with a gigolo as soon as he was sent to prison. He makes her strip off the rest of her clothes and in true "Roughie" fashion beats her with a belt, though in a nice juxtaposition to her screams the camera focuses of a photo of Tony & Mado that Tony has pinned to the wall paper "happier days". 

Happier days

After beating Mado, Tony, almost rejuvenated, throws her out and calls Jo telling him he's in on the Webb job but they are not doing it half-assed they are going to do it all the way and take the safe. The film next goes into all the elaborate planning that's involved in the heist. Tony's plan requiers a safe cracker and Mario calles the expert César "le Milanais" in Italy. César is a ladies man and before the heist he falls for Viviane the  L'Âge d'Or night-club singer .
Robert Hossein (Remi Grutter) lt. , Marcel Lupovici  (Pierre Grutter) rt.

Viviane doing her act

Phase one of the plan the floor

 Phase two the safe 
The heist goes off without a hitch, and the guys meet up back at Mario's with the bijoux (jewels)

The lovely Ida

Ida the former show girl (displaying her rack) & Mario
Of course being a Noir a small mistake by César causes events to start spinning out of control 

César is caught by the Grutters....  and he talks,  which results in,,,,.

Mario & Ida's throats cut by Remi above and,Tonino getting abducted and held for ransom below.



The el and tony

Elevator noir

Low angle


The el

Mado Helps Tony

Reflections and Composition

This film not only does a wonderful job of fleshing out all the characters but also makes you sincerely care about them . Music by Georges Auric. A  Criterion Release DVD is available with many extras a 10/10.

Tony "le Stéphanois"
From Wiki:

Upon its original release, film critic and future director François Truffaut praised the film, stating that "Out of the worst crime novels I ever read, Jules Dassin has made the best crime film I've ever seen" and "Everything in Le Rififi is intelligent: screenplay, dialogue, sets, music, choice of actors. Jean Servais, Robert Manuel, and Jules Dassin are perfect."[7] French critic André Bazin said that Rififi brought the genre a "sincerity and humanity that break with the conventions of a crime film, and manage to touch our hearts"

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