Rififi (1955)

Rififi (1955)

“For a job with you, he’ll come.”

After learning his former flame (Marie Sabouret) has hooked up with a nightclub owner (Marcel Lupovici), an ex-con (Jean Servais) newly released from prison agrees to help his young friend Jo (Mohner) and Jo’s friend Mario (Robert Manuel) carry out a major jewelry heist, with support from expert safecracker Cesar (Jules Dassin) — but when Lupovici learns Servais has beaten Sabouret, he and his brothers Remy (Robert Hossein) and Louis (Pierre Grasset) seek revenge on the thieves, which includes terrorizing Jo’s wife (Janine Darcey) and young son.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Ex-Cons
  • French Films
  • Heists
  • Jules Dassin Films

Response to Peary s Review:
Peary writes that after being blacklisted in Hollywood, writer-director “Jules Dassin went to France and made what quickly became the prototype for future caper films.” He points out that “the heist, which takes about half an hour, during which time no one speaks and there is no music, is a great, nail-biting sequence”: we soon “marvel at how expertly planned their robbery is, how they work as a team, and how innovative each man is, particularly in knowing how to incorporate items such as fire extinguishers and umbrellas that wouldn’t be found in a burglar’s manual.”

He notes that “when the heist is complete, the inevitable trouble begins,” and asserts that the “film holds up surprisingly well due to sex and strong violence (the many killings are all terrifyingly brutal) that were ahead of their time in the fifties, and because Dassin sets up interesting, loyalty-based relationships between the men and their women.”

He writes that “while the heist is the film’s classic sequence, other scenes have strong tension as well,” and “also impressive is Dassin’s use of Paris locales.”

I’m in agreement with Peary’s review: this film remains top-notch entertainment, and deserves its status as a classic. The synopsis provided above doesn’t go into specifics about how this elaborate heist ends up going so wrong — but suffice it to say that we learn just enough about all the key characters in the first portion of the film to understand how their loved ones and enemies will play a crucial role in the movie’s tense denouement.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Jean Servais as Tony
  • Magali Noël singing the title song
  • The incredibly tense heist sequence
  • Fine location shooting
  • Atmospheric cinematography

Must See?
Yes, as a classic of the genre, and an all-around good show.


  • Foreign Gem
  • Genuine Classic


One thought on “Rififi (1955)

  1. Agreed; must-see, as a top-notch heist flick. As per my 4/4/16 post in ‘The ’40s-’50s in Film’ (fb):

    ‘Rififi’ is nothing short of a masterpiece. Jules Dassin made the film when he was blacklisted in Hollywood and couldn’t get work as a director. He was offered the job of doing this film in France (for which he also wrote the script and in which he also plays one of the main four characters). This is a brilliantly constructed heist flick. At its center (best of all) is a 25-minute sequence involving a detailed jewel robbery… all done in near-silence, without dialogue, without music. It’s riveting. But there’s no letting-up at that point… and the film continues to build in breathless tension. Terrific cast. Dassin won for Best Director at Cannes that year, and the film was a big hit. A must-see movie, to be sure.

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