Jean-Pierre Melville and Auguste Le Breton wrote Bob le flambeur back in 1950, but they shelved it due to the release of The Asphalt Jungle – the grandpappy of American heist films. I’m not sure if they pushed it aside because they didn’t want to compete with another caper film, or if Melville was so impressed with Jungle that he decided to beef up Bob. Either way, Bob le flambeur went through some rewrites, with Melville aiming for a comedy of manners directed at the underworld. The intricacies and relationships of Parisian riffraff are shown in glorious detail, and the film seems to mourn their downfall.
Today the Criterion Collection is releasing a Blu-ray upgrade of Jules Dassin’s mighty Rififi. In honor of this, today’s crime review will be a reprint of a Movie of the Day column I wrote for CHUD back in September of last year. Dig:
Rififi is a flat-out brilliant and brutal caper that transcends the crime genre. It’s the complete antithesis of the decadent Hollywood heist films where everyone’s dressed as a GQ model and immune to perspiration. The four ex-cons of the film live in a much darker world where plans are hatched in dank basements and shootouts occur in secluded hills. There’s nothing pretty about the film – except for perhaps Magali Noel as the seductive lounge singer Viviane – but it still manages to be unquestionably beautiful in its execution, structure, photography, and moral nucleus.