Much as I like film noir, I tend to go to sleep the moment that a critic begins to expound on its misterioso virtues. So I won’t bore you by rhapsodizing over the moody-poetic night-world artistry of Rififi, the 1955 French heist thriller, directed by the blacklisted Hollywood refugee Jules Dassin, that is being rereleased on the big screen for the first time in 30 years.
What I will say is that the film’s amazing central sequence, in which four Paris hoodlums break into a jewelry store from the apartment above, without uttering a single word for an entire half hour of screen time, has acquired new resonance, since it now looks disarmingly low-tech. This is a film in which master thieves catch plaster ceiling debris in an upside-down umbrella. The crime is indeed perfect, the underworld equivalent of a sublime French meal, but as Rififi goes on, it becomes as savage as Reservoir Dogs, The Killing, or any of the other dozens of films over which it still casts a shadow. A