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02 April 2008


Richard Kamins

Being a Middletown native (and resident most of my life), I've always enjoyed the fact that Jules Dassin was born here (gives a sleepy city a bit of pizazz.) Wesleyan University has given creative music fans our best shot at "hipdom" what with Bill Barron, Bill Lowe, Ed Blackwell, Alvin Lucier, Ron Kuivila, Anthony Braxton and Pheroan ak Laff having served or currently on the faculty. Can't forget Jeanine Basinger and her Film Studies program with its slew of graduates now creating movies and television shows as well as housing the archives of Frank Capra, Clint Eastwood and John Waters(!)
Yet, I remember seeing "Rififi" many years ago after reading an article in the local paper about "Hometown Boy Hits the Bigtime" (or something like that.) Well, the same headline showed up after "Never on Sunday" became a hit and then "Topkapi."
Nevertheless, he did make some great films and was politically active. Sadly, so few people around here today remember his name or his films.


How did I miss this news? I just saw The Naked City again a couple of weeks ago—Christ almighty, what a good flick. That final chase still is more imaginative and beautifully shot than almost anything out today.

I once saw an interview with Dassin (I think it might be on the Criterion Rififi DVD) where he described his first day in Hollywood. Dassin reported for work, only to be recruited onto a studio team for an exhibition baseball game against a team of stars led by Gene Kelly. Dassin turned out to be the hero of the game; when his agent found out, he scolded Dassin for not waiting until after the game to sign his contract. "Only in Hollywood," Dassin chuckled.

Scott Burton

Rififi is such a great film. Being the resident music/film nerd I had to weigh in on this. The DVD is great, but I was lucky enough to see this film on the big screen at NYC's Quad Cinema. They screened the print in the week's before the DVD came out, and it looked amazing on the big screen. The tension that the heist scene builds with no music has only just recently been explored in the Coen's "No Country for Old Men." I love music, but the absence of it is often more powerful.


The movie is simply a masterpiece.

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