Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Jules Dassin, Not French

I received an email yesterday from the Film Society of Lincoln Center (one of the two best places in NYC to see a movie, along with BAM) promoting their Rendez-Vous with French Cinema series.  In the brief description of 1959's The Law, they refer to its director as "the French auteur Jules Dassin".  Oops.  Dassin, who died two years ago this month, was from Connecticut. 

I saw a late interview with Dassin where he joked about how often people assumed he was French because of his sort-of French-sounding last name (in fact, his father was a Russian Jew) and the fact that he spent a large portion of his career working in Europe after being blacklisted.  Probably his most famous film, the ur-heist picture Rififi, was a French film.  I like to think of Rififi as the Paris part of a three-city crime trilogy, along with The Naked City (New York) and Night and the City (London, and probably my favorite of the three).  I haven't seen any of his later European work, but when he was working within the realm of "tough guys in hats doing bad things in a big city", Dassin was a master. 

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