DU RIFIFI CHEZ LES HOMMES (1955)

After five years in prison, Tony le Stéphanois meets his dearest friends Jo and the Italian Mario Ferrati and they invite Tony to steal a couple of jewels from the show-window of the famous jewelry Mappin & Webb Ltd, but he declines. Tony finds his former girlfriend Mado, who became the lover of the gangster owner of the night-club L’ Âge d’ Or Louis Grutter, and he humiliates her, beating on her back and taking her jewels. Then he calls Jo and Mario and proposes a burglary of the safe of the jewelry. They invite the Italian specialist in safes and elegant wolf Cesar to join their team and they plot a perfect heist. They are successful in their plan, but the D. Juan Cesar makes things go wrong when he gives a valuable ring to his mistress. In the 1972 robbery of the United California Bank, a group of thieves used Styrofoam adhesive to spray inside of an alarm box. This effectively stopped the arm of the alarm from ringing much like the technique used within the film. Mexican authorities pulled the movie from theaters after multiple burglaries were committed employing methods similar to those shown. The argot French slang word, “Rififi” is defined loosely as trouble/violent conflict/a brutal show of force, usually in reference to chest puffing and macho tough guy posturing by thugs and criminal element of Paris. Dassin also claims that he was brought in on the project because of his situation (the Hollywood blacklist). The novel’s characters were all North Africans and at the time France was experiencing much trouble with Algeria. This was seen as possibly inflammatory so the producers wanted an American director to soften it by making them Americans instead. Dassin asked if they’d considered simply making them Frenchmen. They had not. he film was made on an extremely small budget (so small that Dassin claims people do not believe him when he tells them the amount), which is why so many desperate (himself included) or inexperienced people were hired for the production. The director claims that he was so broke at the Cannes film festival in 1955 (where he won the Best Director prize for the film) that, while watching one of the producers play the casinos, he had to ask for some money to bet. He then asked on what date had they began filming Rififi? When informed of the date (the 18th), Dassin put all his money on 18 and won. He says that his family managed to live off this money for a while.

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