...And Now We Lose Jules Dassin, Too.
If you're interested in the guy himself, I recommend renting The Naked City, which was his last American film. The Criterion edition contains the interview that got me hooked. (Of course, if you haven't seen Night and the City yet, that'll give you both Widmark AND Dassin. And come to think of it, Dassin himself actually has an acting role in Rififi, so that's another option.)
By the way, although he was best known for Night and the City, which was filmed in Paris, and although he lived in France and Greece (he was self-exiled, thanks to McCarthy's blacklist), he was, in fact, an American from Connecticut. I'm glad to lay claim to the man.
From my Netflix account:
THE NAKED CITY ****
Too dated for mainstream tastes, but for anyone with a taste for classic cinema or a love for New York City, this is essential viewing. It's the Ur-Law & Order, with 107 vintage location shoots. Although the acting itself is pretty thudding, and the police-procedural-noir (shades of Border Incident or T-Men or He Walked By Night) is rather talky and detached by modern standards, the film delivers in spades in its location work and cinematography, the mystery itself is interesting, and the EXTRAS on this Criterion Disk are terrific: not only commentary by the screenwriter, but two brilliant deconstructions of the movie by academics (one an expert in noir, one an expert in New York-based cinema), and a thoroughly charming onstage interview with the director, filmed in 2004. For film noir/police procedural fans, this is a truly great package.
The granddaddy of all heist capers hasn't lost an ounce of muscle in fifty years. Sharp, brutal, and full of energy, it gives Paris a refreshing noir sheen (particularly in this beautiful Criterion print) and would be enjoyable even if you weren't also having fun noticing all the other movies that have cribbed from it since (Ocean's Eleven, The Italian Job, The Heist...). Doesn't have a commentary track, but the production notes are terrific, and Criterion amazes yet again: this is the THIRD disc of theirs I've seen that contains an interview with Jules Dassin, and it's a completely different interview, with almost no overlap with the other two (on The Naked City and Night and the City). Just plain heaven for crime movie fans.
Labels: movies and TV