Monday, March 31, 2008

JULES DASSIN (1911-2008)

American film noir has lost another icon… last week it was actor Richard Widmark and now director Jules Dassin, who died today at the age of 96.
Widmark and Dassin will forever be connected in my mind for their unforgettable 1950 film Night and the City, one of the greatest film noirs ever made!!

Jules Dassin was #77 on the A2P Cinema Top Filmmakers of the World list that I wrote in 2006. Here is what I said...

American-born Jules Dassin began in Hollywood making films within several genres. His greatest work in America were crime noir thrillers which came at the end of the 1940s with the violent Brute Force (1947), raw and gritty Naked City (1948), and the masterful noir Thieves Highway (1949). Each of these films were groundbreaking in different ways and Naked City is especially influential as it was one of the earliest Hollywood films to be entirely shot outside a studio and on location and it remains a pivotal influence to many documentary-style crime thrillers and television series that followed. Dassin’s last film in Hollywood, Thieves Highway, is one of the most exciting noirs ever made. In 1950, Dassin was forced to depart America as he was blacklisted for associating with the Communist Party. However, his career certainly didn’t end there, and in many respects it grew as Dassin became more beloved in Europe then he ever was in America. Dassin continued to make films in Europe, including: United Kingdom (1950’s Night and the City which to me is a masterpiece and one of the very greatest noirs of all-time), France (1955’s Rififi- his most beloved film which is well known for a long and silent heist sequence), and Greece (1960’s Never on Sunday- which was nominated for five Oscars including two for Dassin as Best Director and Best Screenplay). Dassin turned a bit more “arty” with his post-Rififi films, but he became highly respected in Europe most notably in France. His films prior to the unfortunate blacklisting, stand among the best of its kind in American cinema.