With a little luck and assistance from YouTube and Archive.org, September will be Jules Dassin noir month on #BNoirDetour, live tweets every Sunday at 9pm ET. Here’s a little preview reel set to the song “Rififi” from Rififi:
September 4 (Labor Day Weekend)
- Night and the City (1950)
- Rififi (Du Rififi Chez les Hommes) (1955)
These two fantastic films are the only productions Dassin directed during his blacklist/exile years. Night and the City tells the story of a man who just wants to “be somebody,” but his methods are madness and end up destroying him and everyone around him. Stars Richard Widmark, Gene Tierney, Googie Withers, Francis L. Sullivan, Hugh Marlowe, Herbert Lom, Mike Mazurki, and wrestling champion Stanislaus Zbyszko. Rififi is Dassin’s first French-language film, a superlative Paris heist flick that became the standard for all heist pictures that have come after it — and it reinvigorated Dassin’s career. [We will watch it in French (with cc English subtitles we must turn on ourselves); this should create a unique challenge for riffers.]
- Brute Force (1947)
- The Tell-tale Heart (short) (1941)
Our second Sunday will feature prison break noir Brute Force, starring Burt Lancaster, Hume Cronyn, Charles Bickford, Yvonne De Carlo, Ann Blyth, Ella Raines, and Sam Levene. We’ll also watch The Tell-tale Heart, a short feature based on the Edgar Allan Poe story, that was Dassin’s first film as a director.
- Thieves’ Highway (1949)
In Thieves’ Highway, a war vet returns home to start a trucking business with his fiancee’s father and live happily ever after, until he becomes bent on revenge when he finds his father was crippled by a robber. Stars Richard Conte, Valentina Cortese, Lee J. Cobb, Barbara Lawrence, and Jack Oakie.
- The Naked City (1948)
We end the month with a New York City noir about two detectives investigating the death of an attractive young woman. Is the suicide actually a murder, and did her nogoodnik boyfriend do it? Stars Barry Fitzgerald, Howard Duff, and Dorothy Hart.