Jules Dassin

"Between the mid-1940s and the late 1950s, Jules Dassin directed some of the better realistic, hard-bitten, fast-paced crime dramas produced in America, before his blacklisting and subsequent move to Europe. However, while he has made some very impressive films, his career as a whole is lacking in artistic cohesion." - Rob Edelman (The St. James Film Directors Encyclopedia, 1998)

Jules Dassin

Director / Screenwriter
(1911-2008) Born December 18, Middletown, Connecticut, USA

Key Production Countries: USA, France, Greece, Italy
Key Genres: Film Noir, Crime, Crime Drama, Drama, Caper, Urban Drama, Crime Comedy
Key Collaborators: William Daniels (Cinematographer), Roger Dwyre (Editor), Jean Servais (Leading Actor), Carl Möhner (Leading Actor), Mark Hellinger (Producer), Henri Bérard (Producer), Chester W. Schaeffer (Editor), Nick DeMaggio (Editor), Melina Mercouri (Leading Character Actress), Howard Duff (Leading Character Actor), Miklos Rozsa (Composer), George Bassman (Composer)

"The reputation of Jules Dassin rests on five crime thrillers, three of which were made in Hollywood before he was forced to leave the United States for political reasons. An ineffectual mixture of comedies and dramas characterized Jules Dassin's early films until he made Brute Force (1947), a tough prison drama." - Ronald Bergan (Film - Eyewitness Companions, 2006)
"His early films showed great promise, and include the superb prison drama Brute Force (1947), the cop rite-of-passage movie The Naked City (1948), and two of the very best film noir thrillers ever produced, Thieves' Highway (1949), and Night and the City (1950)... Dassin's hokum period only began when he arrived in Europe and met Melina Mercouri, and its apogee came with the cheery, teary, weary, Never on Sunday (1960)." - Mario Reading (The Movie Companion, 2006)
"His early American films (Brute Force, 47: Naked City, 48) are etched in the hard, cold shadowy world of the film noir and semi-documentary. Later European work has a primitive passion (La Loi, 58: Never on Sunday, 60)." - William R. Meyer (The Film Buff's Catalog, 1978)
"American-born of Russian parents, Dassin was a globe-trotting wanderer before becoming a film-maker. It seemed that he had found his forte in the late 1940s with humourless, hard-hitting social-conscience thrillers shot on genuine locations…. The McCarthy blacklist halted Dassin's career in Hollywood, and he spent the next ten years making films elsewhere, eventually getting a reputation as an entirely different sort of director, one of full-blooded melodramas giving full rein to the talents of his second wife, Greek actress Melina Mercouri." - David Quinlan (Quinlan's Film Directors, 1999)
"For a brief period in the late 40s, Dassin was at the forefront of Hollywood's efforts to produce its own (inevitably melodramatic) brand of neo-realism: location shooting, gritty grey camerawork, and a focus on working-class heroes were favoured in purportedly 'tell-it-like-it-is' tales of determinedly unglamorous lives such as The Naked City, Thieves' Highway and Night and the City… Thereafter, blacklisted as a communist, he worked in Europe, and following the stylish but shallow Rififi, collaborated with his Greek actress wife Melina Mercouri on a series of increasingly absurd, pretentious dramas… The highpoint of his career was short-lived; the constraints of Hollywood's studio system seem to have reined in his flair for hysterical nonsense." - Geoff Andrew (The Director's Vision, 1999)
"He was called the first American neo-realist, though in truth Dassin worked best within the framework of the thriller. It was a genre he inflected with location shooting and a social conscience, before his career was derailed by the House Un-American Activities Committee witch-hunts. Nevertheless, Dassin was able to pick up the pieces in Europe, where he would make his home in France and Greece." - Tom Charity (The Rough Guide to Film, 2007)
TSPDT Guide
Highly Recommended
Thieves' Highway (1949) ✖︎, Night and the City (1950) ✖︎, Rififi (1955) ✖︎
Recommended
Brute Force (1947) ✖︎, The Naked City (1948) ✖︎
Worth a Look
The Canterville Ghost (1944), Two Smart People (1946), He Who Must Die (1957), Topkapi (1964)
Acclaimed Films / IMDB Filmography
1,000 Greatest Films ✖︎ 1,000 Noir Films
Amazon Products
Films / Books
    Rififi
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