Movie Review by Alice Castle
Starring: Jean Servais, Carl Mohner, Robert Manuel, Perlo Vita, Marie Sabouret, Janine Darcey
Director: Jules Dassin
The mother of all heist movies Jules Dassin’s 1955 film noir tells the tale of a group of thieves who come together to do over the Paris branch of Mappin & Webb. And when I say mother of all heist movies I mean it – OCEAN’S ELEVEN, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE and RESERVOIR DOGS are all reflections of this French classic. The planning-the-crime section moves slowly as the motley crew cruise through fifties Paris in stylish cars, smoke-filled nightclubs and shady alleys. Tony the Stephanois, the ringleader is the kind of criminal who scars his former girlfriend by whipping her bare back when after five years in prison he finds out she’s been unfaithful to him.
The robbery itself is played out in a nail bitingly silent 30 minute sequence, which spans a whole night and involves blocking the bank’s alarm system with a can of foam and breaking through the ceiling with a couple of mighty sledgehammers. I suppose if it was as simple as that these days we’d never have got to see Tom Cruise hanging off a ceiling to avoid a load of lasers. For the RIFIFI thieves (slang for a quarrel) the crime is so meticulously executed it almost seems like they’re going to get away with it.