Friday, 11 April 2008

JULES DASSIN 1911 - 2008

Richard Widmark : NIGHT AND THE CITY

Dassin's early films are, reportedly, unremarkable and with the possible exception of THE CANTERVILLE GHOST rarely seen these days. His reputation was made in the post-war period with three tough crime dramas, BRUTE FORCE(1947), THE NAKED CITY(1948) and THIEVES HIGHWAY(1949), after which the director fell foul of the HUAC investigations and moved to Europe where he continued in the same vein with, first, the classic noir THE NIGHT AND THE CITY (1950) which was filmed in London and then RIFIFI (1954), the Paris filmed template for virtually every "heist" movie since. In later years he had some big commercial successes with NEVER ON A SUNDAY(60) and TOPKAPI(1964), neither of which I have seen. In between these he made the somewhat overwrought but very enjoyable PHAEDRA(1962). These three all starred his wife, the Greek actress Melina Mercouri. His post-war thrillers were, for me, his greatest achievement. R.I.P

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