Two movies on Sunday. I caught the early show so I could go home and get a good night's sleep. I must be getting old
RIFIFI (1955): It means fisticuffs. It means tough-guy posturing. It means trouble. And it has become synonymous with perfect heist films. Heavily influenced by THE ASPHALT JUNGLE, it was quite a treat to watch these two takes on a very similar story play out just days apart. Tony le Stéphanois (Jean Servais) is recently out of prison. He meets up with some old friends, who try to convince him to come in on a quick smash-and-grab job for jewelry in the show window of the famous jeweler Mappin and Webb. But he's got a better idea--go for the safe. And they pull it off, in a brilliantly tense 32 minutes with neither music nor dialogue (and people don't believe me when I say silent movies are actually still being made all the time, you just don't realize it because they're in between all that talking.) But their still human, and humans make mistakes. In this case, the safe-cracker Cesar (played by director Jules Dassin when the original actor dropped out due to contract problems) has a weakness for women, and that gets the whole thing blown. And the ending...another magnificently tense scene featuring a car chase and a little boy...wow.
THE BIG RISK (CLASSE TOUS RISQUES) (1960): Abel Davos (Lino Ventura) is a wanted man in Italy. So he makes plans to escape back to France with his wife and children. To raise funds for this adventure, he and his partner commit one more brazen theft, one in which a few people die. And once in France, he starts calling on old friends and asking for favors. But his friends aren't all that trustworthy, and he's already living on the edge, so as friends drop out, he's backed further and further into a corner. His motto is "never give ground" but eventually something has to give. I loved the increasing tension as you watch how increasingly desperate he gets while trying not to lose his cool.
Total Running Time: 230 minutes
My Total Minutes: 414,348