Le Heist Double Bill

With the release of Logan Lucky this weekend, it's a good chance to search out some heist movies to whet the appetite. Only one thing cooler than pulling off a robbery and that's if you are French and do it without making a sound. Silence, s'il vous plaît!!'

In Le Cercle Rouge (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1970), a recently released prisoner (Alain Delon) and a recently escaped prisoner (Gian Maria Volontè) team up to pull off a jewel heist in this stylish and minimalist crime thriller. Melville’s direction is stately and it’s always thematically interesting, especially when things inevitably go wrong. However, it is rather overlong and a little contrived, with the meeting of the two leads in particular rather improbable. But Delon is très fleek, despite being encumbered with a silly moustache, and Yves Montand lends class to the whole affair as another member of the gang. Best of all, the heist itself, carried out in almost complete silence, is marvellous stuff and just as good as the celebrated one in Rififi.

Speaking of which, Rififi (Jules Dassin, 1955) is a classic film noir and a justifiably celebrated cornerstone of the heist genre. The three act formula is cleanly executed as we see a team of specialists (including Dassin himself as safe-cracker Cesar) meticulously planning, and then carrying out a difficult diamond theft, before some human failings results in things going tragically awry. It is of course most remembered for the central 28-minute heist, a sequence featuring no dialogue or music, which is unbearably tense and ingeniously detailed. Indeed, Rififi was banned in some countries after wannabe thieves adopted the tactics depicted to carry out real-life robberies. But the rest of the film is brilliant too; in the best traditions of film noir, the B&W photography is atmospheric and claustrophobic, there's no sense that this can possibly end happily and everyone smokes their heads off. It was a resounding success for Dassin, who only made the film because he needed the work after being blacklisted in Hollywood because of his Communist party membership. He moved to Europe, brilliantly adapted the film from a pulpy novel, won Best Director at Cannes, met his future wife at the festival and provided the blueprint for heist films ever since. He did okay, n'cest pas?

Okay, if those have inspired you, meet me at the old abandoned warehouse to discuss a job I might have for you. *taps nose* Just one last job and we'll be home free, promise! Just don't mention it to anyone or post it on the Internet or anything stupid like that.

No comments:

Post a Comment