My Review of ‘Rififi’ (1955)

It’s taken me way too long to watch this film. For years, I’ve read or heard good things about it. I’m glad to say that all the praise bestowed upon the movie is well-deserved.

Via The Warning Sign.

The main player here is Tony “le Stéphanois”, who has just finished a five-year stretch in la prison. He is, let us say, dead broke in poor financial straits. So one of his brainiac friends proposes they pull a jewel heist. On the street. In mid-day. Tony isn’t a complete moron wisely declines.

Via Noirsville.

Tony then learns that his main squeeze has hooked up with a gangster while Tony was cooling his heels in le joint. So he invites her to his crappy apartment low-rent flat and, after a short interrogation, proceeds to beat the hell out of her. A charming fellow that Tony. Keep in mind this film came out in the mid-1950s, after a song about the joys of domestic abuse actually appeared in at least one popular film.

Via Speed Art Museum.

Tony then decides, “Hey! That heist idea? I’m in. As long as we do it completely differently than my bonehead friend suggested.” Now, the mission is to infiltrate the jewelry store, get past all the alarms and security devices, and break into Le Big Safe.

So, now they need a safecracker. And they bring in an Italian compatriot to handle that. Of course, the more people you involve in these things, the greater the chances that something or someone will go terribly wrong. Ahem!

Altogether there are four players: Tony the Jailbird, Jo the Idiot, Mario the Mutual Friend, and Cesar the Italiano. Together they work out a way to defeat the security system. In a MacGyver-like fashion that doesn’t even involve computer hacking. Imagine!

Via The Mind Reels.

The heist itself has to be one of the most suspenseful scenes of its sort to be filmed. Ever. I so totally applaud the filmmaker’s decision to show the burglary in what felt like real-time (20 minutes worth, at least) with absolutely no music or dialogue. That is a brave decision and it pays off. Majorly.

And have I mentioned the evocative noir cinematography? Like New York, LA, and San Francisco, black-and-white film seems to suit Paris to a T.

Via Studies in Cinema.

And, all joking aside, the actors are excellent. Rififi, as one critic at the time noted, is “brilliant and brutal”. It reminds me quite a bit of The Asphalt Jungle. With an ending that’s equally heartbreaking, but about ten times as frenetic.

A must-see for cinephiles and film noir/heist film enthusiasts!

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6 Responses to My Review of ‘Rififi’ (1955)

  1. moviefanman says:

    I remember seeing a snippet of this on Turner Classic Movies (before those jerks at Xfinity made it a premium channel) and was very intrigued by it. This inspired Jean-Pierre Melville’s Le Cercle Rouge (a favorite of mine) and a slew of other Neo Film-Noir classics. I’m undecided if I wanna get the Criterion Collection Blu Ray or the Arrow Academy Blu Ray as I like both companies.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review of a wonderful film!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Tbis sounds terrific! I like the idea of a real-time robbery, sans music or effects. Can’t believe I haven’t seen this already!

    Liked by 1 person

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