March 2, 2024

RIFIFI, streaming from 6/26 through 7/2

Showing: June 26 through July 2, anytime
Year: 1955
Country: France
Genre: ,
Actors: ,,

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After five years in prison, a thief is invited by his dear friends and fellow criminals to steal jewels from a famous jewelry store, and he declines. But when he discovers that his former girlfriend has become the lover of a nightclub owner, he proposes to his friends a burglary of the nightclub safe. Joined by a specialist in safecracking, they plot the perfect heist. The plan succeeds, but then things begin to go wrong. 1955, France, 118 minutes, with English subtitles

Following his HUAC blacklisting from Hollywood, and desperately needing work, film director Jules Dassin was invited to adapt a book that he felt was so bad it would endanger his reputation, but he couldn’t afford to turn it down (Francois Tuffaut later said it was the worst novel that he’d ever read). The story of a gang of thieves, Dassin turned a robbery that was barely mentioned in the book into the centerpiece of the film, filling a quarter of the running time, and in the process invented the heist film and creating standard for screen robberies for decades to come — from his own Topkapi to Mission: Impossible. The film was briefly banned amidst concerns that it presented a “how-to” lesson in crime.

Tickets are $6.99, and are available HERE.

DISCUSSION ON ZOOM: To request a link to the discussion, please send an email to Then join screenwriter and SUNY Purchase film production and screenwriting professor J.D. Zeik for a discussion on Rififi on Tuesday,  June 30, at 7:30 PM. J.D. Zeik’s credits include his original screenplay, Ronin, starring Robert DeNiro and directed by John Frankenheimer (for which he studied Rififi); The Touch, with Michelle Yeoh; Pistol Whipped, with Steven Seagal; and the TV film (and subsequent series) Witchblade, on which he also served an executive producer. He has also worked with artists as varied as James Cameron, Alfonso Cuaron, and 50 Cent.

– Francois Truffaut

– Andrew Sarris

“JUST ABOUT FLAWLESS! For lovers of tough-guy moviemaking, Rififi really means perfection. A genre movie brought off so keenly that it defines that genre’s strengths and limits… As a director, Mr. Dassin has perfect pitch. When anything disrupts the film’s dry yet convivial tone — like Tony beating his ex-lover for taking up with that nightclub owner in his absence — it registers as a troubling portent, not a dramatic miscue. The movie has been criticized for its astringency: no spontaneous emotion, no tender or playful impulse, goes unpunished. But that’s what gives the film its hardscrabble integrity. Mr. Dassin seduces you into thinking that you’re joining four underworld musketeers. Then he shows you there’s no room in this band for carefree camaraderie.”
– Michael Sragow, The New York Times

“The underworld equivalent of a sublime French meal… As Rififi goes on, it becomes as savage as Reservoir Dogs, The Killing, or any of the other dozens of films over which it still casts a shadow.”
– Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

“THE BEST OF ALL HEIST MOVIES! Rififi mirrors the arcs of the criminal lives it examines: It seduces you in, and then won’t let you out cleanly. THIS IS TOUGH-GUY NOIR OF THE HIGHEST PROOF.”
– Alan Scherstuhl, Village Voice

“THE UNFORGETTABLE MASTERPIECE OF CRIME… Dassin’s meditative magnum opus.
– Indiewire’s The Playlist