For us, “Rififi” is not only one of the best gangster films of all time but also has one of the best sequences in film history. Today there is the classic on TV – without advertising, but still with a big hook.
When Quentin Tarantino, who was still working at a video store at the time, had the idea of writing a screenplay for a film about gangsters pulling off a heist, he knew he had to watch Rififi again. As he later recounted, it was the first of several films he took home from work and watched for inspiration and preparation.
Not only Tarantino’s “Reservoir Dogs”, but also Brian De Palma’s “Mission: Impossible” and Michael Mann’s “Heat” refer to the classic by Jules Dassin, about which the legendary French director Francois Truffaut once judged: “From the worst crime novel, I’ve ever read, Jules Dassin made the best crime film I’ve ever seen.”
“Rififi”: Cut on TV, uncut on Amazon Prime Video
“Rififi“ runs today, April 6, at 10:45 p.m. on ONE – albeit with a huge catch. “Rififi” was only released in German cinemas shortened by several minutes. Incidentally, the cuts have nothing to do with the fact that the film is too brutal or that conservative Bavarian politicians really started a shitstorm against “Rififi” and thought about a ban because the gangster thriller would encourage burglars and tempt them to imitate it. Above all, they simply wanted to make the film a little shorter.
It was not primarily violent scenes that were cut, but mostly short plot passages. The film is still understandable (and the cuts are not noticeable without knowledge), but in the uncut version “Rififi” is atmospherically denser, and the main character Tony in particular gets even more profile. Nevertheless, the cut version is still shown today because there is no dubbing for the scenes that were once removed. ONE probably only shows the old German cinema version today.
We, therefore, advise you to use the uncut version, which is available on Amazon Prime Video, as an alternative. A synchronized version is even included in the subscription, in which the originally shortened passages were inserted in the original with subtitles. If you prefer the original French version for the entire duration, you will, unfortunately, have to pay extra.
But now we’ll tell you why you, as a cinephile, need to know this highly exciting classic of gangster and heist films.
“Rififi”: pure high tension
Fresh out of prison thief Tony’s (Jean Servais) idea of getting honest is short-lived. Instead, he quickly plans a new coup in “Rififi”. With his old friend Jo (Carl Möhner) and the two Italians Mario (Robert Manuel) and Cesar (director Jules Dassin himself), he wants to steal diamonds. They plan their big coup meticulously, making no mistake. But the theft of diamonds is just the beginning. Competing gangsters get wind of the loot. A bloody finale begins…
It is one of the most outstanding passages in film history, which alone may have been responsible for Jules Dassin being awarded Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival. And not a word is spoken for about 30 minutes. When the gang of thieves undertakes their precisely planned raid, only the pictures speak. Every breathing, every little noise, which the gangsters naturally try to avoid, can be heard all the more clearly. This is cinema in perfection – and one of the most exciting things you’ve ever seen.
Even though the planning and execution of the robbery are showpieces, “Rififi” continues to be high-class and immensely captivating – right up to the grand finale. In our ranking of the best gangster films of all time, “Rififi” therefore has a firm place and only just misses the top 10.