Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Jules Dassin 1911-2008

Seems to be as if the great studio upstairs is recruiting the last remaining film noir legends.
Now it was Jules Dassin's time. Truth be told I have only seen two of his films, but somehow he's been present in my cinematical memories fro quite some time.
I remember when I was younger being transfixed by Anthony Perkins' eyes in "Phaedra", but I never finished watching it, then I remember catching the last minutes of "Topkapi" and being uplifted by the color and sounds.
But my first full Dassin came in the shape of "He Who Must Die" a cyclical tale set during Easter when a small town is staging a crucifixion only to be forced to literally ask themselves what would Jesus do when they're invaded by foreigners.
And in the astonishing "Rififi" Dassin showed the world how a heist film should be made. Setting precedents for the nouvelle vague and the blooming film noir.
The robbery sequence, which pays homage to silent cinema and makes you feel every sweat drop coming down your forehead is mesmerizing.
A cultural ambassador for Greece (along with his late wife Melina Mercouri) and a survivor of the HUAAC witch hunt, Dassin was always the kind of underrated film maker that becomes a silent influence.
May he rest in peace.

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