Rififi (1955)

rififi poster 1955 movie
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 10/10

Great looking, good story, solid cast


Movie Info

Movie Name: Rififi

Studio:  Pathé Consortium Cinéma

Genre(s): Mystery/Suspense/Drama

Release Date(s):  April 29, 1955 (Cannes)/April 1957 (US)

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

rififi song performance

Gangsters, guns, and gals!

Tony “The Stéphanois” (Jean Servais) is out of prison after a five year stint that he did in place of his younger associate Jo (Carl Möhner).  Tony finds things are still tough and that his former girlfriend Mado (Marie Sabouret) is now involved with the underworld boss Pierre Grutter (Marcel Lupovici) at his club L’ Âge d’Or.  When Jo and his friend Mario (Robert Manuel) come to Tony with a job, they decide to go big and bring in safe cracker César “le Milanais” (Jules Dassin) to rob a nearly impenetrable high-end jewelry store.  The heist is on, but even if the team can get away with it, no crime goes unpunished.

Directed by Jules Dassin, Rififi (Du rififi chez les hommes) is a French heist suspense drama.  The film is an adaptation of Auguste Le Breton’s 1953 novel.  The film was released to critical acclaim at Cannes and resulted in Dassin winning the Best Director.  The Criterion Collection released a remastered version of the film (Criterion #115).

rififi heist scene cast

Hey, guys…I forgot they emptied this out yesterday…my bad

I’m not a big heist movie fan.  In their own way, even when they have the “twistiest” of twists, they are kind of formulate…assemble a team, plot an intrinsic plan to rob a seemingly impossible location, and the getaway.  That being said, Rififi is a strong movie that helped revolutionize what would become this somewhat cliché genre.

The movie is about the heist, but it is also more so about what comes after.  The heist is pretty intensive with the crew having to break into the store, figure out ways to disarm the advanced alarm, and crack a massive safe, but I actually enjoyed the “everything goes to hell” portion of the film where wild cards and avarice blow-up in the face of the characters.  It isn’t unusual in these films, but it is very well done here.

The cast was largely small names due to a low budget, and Dassin cast himself when the actor planned for César fell through.  The movie is largely carried by the very Humphry Bogart or Robert Mitchum-esque Jean Servais who seems like he has the weight of the world on his shoulders.  While he knows what he’s getting into, it is still a bit of a game for the rest of crew until it starts to fall apart…but Servais’ character weathers it all.

rififi ending jean servais car scene

Drive, old man…Don’t f*!# with me!

The movie looks fantastic.  The centerpiece of the movie is the robbery which is done in silence and lasts a good chunk of the movie.  The actors have a ton of nonverbal communications through the sequence and it does carry weight in that they tell so much without speaking.  In addition to this scene there is just some great cinematography throughout the movie that really helps raise the story from a simple heist into something greater.

Rififi is a great movie for fans of modern heist movies like Ocean’s Eleven, The Italian Job, or The Thomas Crown Affair to check out and see a classic take on the heist.  As a member of the Communist party, Dassin had been blacklisted in Hollywood, and Rififi was part of his post-Hollywood film career…and one of his best.  Get in on this heist!

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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