Rififi (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray + DVD)
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Technically, now, this film transfer is outstanding - the picture is superbly clear, better in fact than a restored print recently screened in Sydney.
For me, the film itself gets better with each viewing. Kind of amazing considering this is overtly a suspense thriller, where not knowing the outcome should be crucial - perhaps this reveals that it is more a character study, particularly a rumination on a character accepting his fate, a fate portrayed as virtually predestined. Also there is a sense that Dassin delights in the making of this picture - his performance as Cesare the Milanese is similarly brimming with enthusiastic charm. The production design by Alexandre Trauner (Les Enfants du Paradis) is another factor in allowing enjoyment to grow with each viewing - the film looks wonderful. There's a sense that each carefully considered part of the film is necessary, and that to change any would be to the detriment of the film as a whole - a little like the feeling inspired by a great musical symphony; possibly it's a little ironic then that the one questionable element is the title song! In the notes, Dassin is said to have rued his dismissal of an alternative, and at the time largely unknown, songwriter - Charles Aznavour!
It is also amazing to think that for decades this film was rarely available for public screening and not obtainable on video. It deserves to be seen by everyone with a love of cinema. A truly great film.
Jean Servais is perfect as a french Bogart marked by tuberculosis, Robert Hossein, in his first role, terrifying as a drug addict tougher than George Raft and Jules Dassin himself, in the role of an italian bad guy, very convincing. Add a wonderful singing act of Magali Noël, the french starlet of the sixties, the great Alexandre - The Children of Paradise - Trauner as art director and the 30 minutes anthology scene, without musical score nor dialogs, of the robbery and you have a movie you can't neglect if you are a true movie lover.
The copy presented in this Criterion DVD release is definitive and the 25 minutes interview with Jules Dassin a bonus feature very appreciated. There is also the choice between the french subtitled version and a dubbed version for the lazy ones. How can you still hesitate ! Go, buy and be happy.
A DVD zone your library.
"Rififi" is almost the same caliber of "The Third Man." Its a crime story - its about a quartet of thieves who after pulling off a daring robbery (the robbery itself is an wonderfully extended silent sequence) and it has a lot of the "late-noir" ambience that the "Third Man" and "Touch of Evil" have. Jean Sevrais is fantastic as the ringleader although the film lacks the real dynamic characterizations that make "The Third Man" so compelling. Since "Rififi" has been made in so many incarnations - including "Reservoir Dogs" - its a bit predictable as well.
Still, "Rififi" is a wonderful film - an American noir (directed by an expatriate American living in France) that's been perfectly recast into its French surroundings. Buy, watch, and savour.
The film itself is one of the greats in the genre of crime thriller, and so it is a criminal shame that Criterion have released the film with a French soundtrack well and truly out of synch with the action.
However - there are NO, repeat, NO - such problems with the English language (dubbed) soundtrack !
So - you have the choice of either suffering the sound problems (but getting the original language and thus a better psychological ambience) or suffering the dubbed English (but having the sound effects in synch).
Either way, if you are a devotee of films, or just heist movies, this is a Must-Have !
The DVD would score five stars if Criterion ever get around to releasing it with the sound problems fixed...
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Best French film ever. Exciting. Great story. I will leave you breathless.Published 2 days ago by Al
Rififi is an entertaining but dated crime thriller. While gritty (and at times misogynistic), the film lacks in noir feeling. Read morePublished 9 months ago by rbrogan3
The Blu-ray is not as sharp as it should be and is inferior to many Blu-rays of even older films. Everything else about film is 5 star.Published 12 months ago by Martin J. Kelly, Jr.
Spellbinding period French film noir. Jean Servais is marvelous as 'Tony le Stephanois,' an intense ex-con striving to pull off the last big one. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Phil Hocker
Tony le Stéphanois is a criminal released from prison, and he meets with several of his old friends to plan one last heist that will make them all wealthy. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Long Tom
I don't know what I can say about this classic that hasn't already been said. If you're at all interested in film history or international cinema or heist movies, this one is for... Read morePublished 14 months ago by TB
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