Tag: Jules Dassin

Harry Fabian is a scumbag. He’s a two-bit, no-good hustler, stepping and stumbling over everyone in his ongoing fight for a slice of the proverbial pie. In one of the early scenes of Jules Dassin’s 1950 classic, NIGHT AND THE CITY, Harry is combing through his girlfriend’s apartment, looking for money to put towards gambling or scheming. She comes in midway, and he sheepishly says he was looking for the cigarettes. She doesn’t buy it, and neither does anyone else. When we meet him, he’s the town laughingstock, a tired racehorse whose tricks are well known to everyone around him.

June 16, 2008 / / Film Notes

Topkapi – dir. Jules Dassin – 1964 – Original Theatrical Trailer

From the fizz of the bouzouki music that begins it to the sad but happy ending which of course, I won’t give away, Topkapi takes us on a great caper carpet ride. For a 48 year old movie, it is as fresh and as taut as the day it was made.

Typical of Sixties’ films: the fluorescent Technicolor, the mod look in fashion, the continental locales, the now vintage cars, it sparkles like the emerald-encrusted dagger the thieves mean to steal. The cast is hand-picked by cinematic heaven: handsome Maximillian Schell, Melina Mercouri with her crazy, dangerous eyes, that mad, Magnani-like laugh. And don’t forget the nonesuch Robert Morley’s eyebrows. If all he had to act with were those eyebrows, he would still sail through his work on a breeze. Peter Ustinov here more than deserves the Oscar he won for Best Supporting Actor; watch for the rat-a-tat frenzied energy of his voice, his face, his walk; the wedgie he shakes from his ample bottom getting out of an automobile. The film is filled with such flourishes and touches: the pistol slipped into the door handle of a car, as if into a holster; the slow, upside-down descent of limber Gilles Segal towards the real Topkapidagger, the fake one glistening on his sweaty chest; Morley turning and turning around and saying, when asked what he is doing, “I’m being a lighthouse”; Ustinov being wrapped in a brassiere of rope. And this has to be one of the first pictures to show two, young, gay men strolling, post-coitus, across a Turkish square; groundbreaking, indeed, for 1964!

June 13, 2008 / / Film Notes

By Kris Tronerud

Night And The City – dir. Jules Dassin – 1950 – Original Theatrical Trailer

Jules Dassin died this March, in his adopted Greece, at the age of 95, and the world of film lost one of is most unique and unpredictable voices. Possessed of a committed social conscience and deeply in love with the melodrama and visual power of film, Dassin was one of the few victims of the McCarthy hearings to not only survive its persecution, but persevere, proceeding to the greatest triumphs of his career as a result of the dislocation and exile it forced upon him. In his long and varied career, Dassin directed virtually every genre, from adventure film to comedy to policier to classic Greek drama to radical political drama, but is best remembered by film buffs (along with the mainstream successes Never on Sunday and Topkapi) for his middle period noirs: the undisputed masterpiece Rififi (1955), and the low-budget made-on-the-run/under-the-gun Night And The City.

September 29, 2006 / / Film Notes