Rififi

1955, Mystery & thriller/Crime, 2h 0m

53 Reviews 5,000+ Ratings

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critics consensus

Rififi depicts the perfect heist in more ways than one, telling its story so effectively that it essentially provided the template for an entire genre to follow. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

Out of prison after a five-year stretch, jewel thief Tony (Jean Servais) turns down a quick job his friend Jo (Carl Mohner) offers him, until he discovers that his old girlfriend Mado (Marie Sabouret) has become the lover of local gangster Pierre Grutter (Marcel Lupovici) during Tony's absence. Expanding a minor smash-and-grab into a full-scale jewel heist, Tony and his crew appear to get away clean, but their actions after the job is completed threaten the lives of everyone involved.

Cast & Crew

Critic Reviews for Rififi

Audience Reviews for Rififi

  • Apr 15, 2016
    This smart and gritty French film about a heist does not disappoint. Jean Servais plays a tough guy who has just gotten out of prison and gets an offer to knock off a high-end jewelry store. The opening scenes that establish the four thieves are memorable - Tony (Servais) running out of money while playing cards, Jo (Carl Möhner) and his young family, who will figure prominently in the film, Mario (Robert Manuel) getting bathed by his buxom wife (Claude Sylvain), and Cesar (director Jules Dassin), the expert safecracker who falls for Viviane (Magali Noel) as she sings the playful title song in a nightclub. The club is owned by Grutter, the leader of a gang, and rival for Tony's old girlfriend Mado (Marie Sabouret), and it's these two guys, Grutter and Tony, who will ultimately have to square off. I have to say the early scene in which Tony tracks Mado down and then forces her to completely strip before beating her with a belt (off-screen) is very disturbing, particularly as we're going to find ourselves rooting for him later in the film. It does establish him as a heavy though, loyal to the gang but if betrayed, merciless, which is consistent how he acts later. I can't recall Servais cracking a smile in the entire film, and he plays the role beautifully. The robbery itself is shown masterfully by Dassin. In the planning stages, only a couple of the ways in which the thieves will pull it off are shown, an example of which is figuring out how to use a fire extinguisher to muffle the then state-of-the-art alarm system. The execution of the crime is highly realistic, and I love how he used minimal dialog and music, so that the actions and facial expressions of the actors tell the story. If only there were more films today that took a lesson from him! We also see a flaw that will lead to problems for them, and the film is far from over after the crime - further drama and real tension await, but I won't spoil it. If you're looking for a caper film that among a few others set the blueprint for the genre, this is it. I found out later Dassin had been blacklisted by Hollywood, and was even happier for the triumph of his fantastic direction here. The script is taut, there are no wasted scenes, and on top of it all there are great shots outdoors in Paris. Don't be frightened by the subtitles or by the fact it's black and white and was made in 1955 - it all holds up very well, and is superior to most of the action films of today.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Oct 08, 2015
    Rififi is an entertaining but dated crime thriller. While gritty (and at times misogynistic), the film lacks in noir feeling. Recommended to anyone that enjoys a good heist film, but don't expect Rififi to be of the same caliber as The Wages of Fear.
    Robert B Super Reviewer
  • Dec 20, 2009
    This is a (French) film noir heist thriller....could it really get any better than that? No, not really. Aside from the fact that it was difficult to read the subtitles at times (black and white film with white/gray lettering), this is a top notch film, and I can see why it is regarded as one of the best and most influential heist films. It's also one of the more artful films of its type too, mostly with how it is constructed and executed. The plot is pretty standard for this type of film: criminal gets out of jail, gets involved in a lucrative score. All seems perfect, and starts off that way, but thigns fall apart, and all hell breaks loose. Much of this film (either plot or certain elements) has turned up in places such as Heat, Mission: Impossible, and the Ocean's trilogy, among others. Sometimes it is just as homage or reference, other times it seems like theft *cue rimshot*. This is just some incredibly thrilling and well done stuff. One sequence that is often mentioned is the film's centerpiece: the heist scene. It is roughly a half hour long, and nearly silent (no talking or music, but some occasional sound). Doing things this way really adds to the atmosphere and builds up the suspense and tension to an almost unbearable level. The final portion of the film involves the fallout of the job, and, for its time, some of this must have seemed rather violent and shocking. Nowadays, not so much, but it's still pretty engaging stuff. A remake of this has been planend for quite some time, and, if it ever gets made, it could be good, but regardless, do yourself a favor and check this one out. It's truly a marvelous and masterful film.
    Chris W Super Reviewer
  • Aug 17, 2009
    Rififi is a truly absorbing, brilliantly executed film by French filmmaker Jules Dassin. In it, a group of four thieves plan the perfect heist, but are ultimately betrayed by their passions and impulses. It is a very pessimistic, dark masterpiece. Jean Servais plays the brooding, lonely main character. He brings the brilliance into the scheme; he's a tortured, experienced criminal who is just out of jail. He is constantly quiet, keeps his motives secret, and conceals with zeal his weak points. Above all, he is the anti hero who redeems himself at the end, if such word as "redemption" can apply. He and his French friend, whose son is his godson, and two Italian thieves -one of which is an expert safebox breaker- begin to plan a 20 million Francs robbery at a jewelry store. During the first half of the film, the group is shown in painstaking observation and evaluation of the routine in and an around the store. Finally, the night comes to execute the plan, and this develops into one of the most fascinating, maybe even exquisite, robbery scenes I have ever seen. For many minutes there is hardly a sound, except perhaps that of the rest of the audience in the theater, hearts beating or nervous breathing. It is wonderfully hypnotizing and mortifying, filmed with such precision and style that it immediately produces admiration. I think that to any film lover this will be close to an ecstatic experience. Technical perfection is not the sole, dominant aspect of Rififi. The four main characters are very well outlined and very well acted; Jean Servais is as archtypical a noir leading man as there ever was in American cinema. Together they embody the carelessness of having nothing to lose, the fierceness of wanting to win everything, and the sadness that such emptiness must helplessly imply. There are also the gloomy, atmospheric shots in the streets of Paris to set the mood, and provide background for the twists and turns of the plot. With a clear narrative style, Rififi successfuly incorporates fragmented scenes, composed of angular takes against the sky and roads of Paris, in a way that reminded me very much of later New Wave films. It is not only a thrilling, suspenseful "action" film, but Du Rififi Chez les Hommes is also a complex drama and styllistic gem. It has violence, humor, sex, and crimes that do not go unpunished. One of those films that really seem to come full circle and satisfy not only us, but themselves.
    Elvira B Super Reviewer

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