Saturday, October 30, 2010

Making It French - Jules Dassin & His "Naked City"

I have always thought that Jules Dassin was French!

One of the royalties of noir is actually an American who was a subject of the Hollywood blacklist during the McCarthy era (remember that swiveling, power-hungry idiot?)

So... he packed up his bags and moved to France where he revived his career as a film maker! Julius Dassin of Middletown, Connecticut became Jules Dassin who made France his base!

Dassin is responsible for "Rififi", the film that inspired the original versions of "Mission: Impossible" and "Oceans 11". Though the latter films sound very mainstream to us, Dassin's story telling is anything but! His magic rests on his ability to create that unsettling undertow of emotions and an ambiguous, indeterminate atmosphere of gloom that has characterized what we now refer to as the "film noir". Grim urban setting, somber tones, feeling of despair.

I recently chanced upon Dassin's "Naked City" and the first 10 minutes alone were more compelling than all the gory stuff in "Pilantik", "Cinco" and "666" combined! A New York model drowning in a bathtub indeed sounds very current! Did she OD on the sleeping pills beside her bed? Or was she deliberately smothered before she was drowned? Calling C.S.I. denizens!

This was a film from 1946!

64 years later, the Philippines fields "Fidel" at the Berlin Film Festival! LOL

New York City: Already the concrete jungle where dreams are made of!

What a gorgeous scene!

Director Jules Dassin: Born in Connecticut, lived in France, died in Athens (at 96)!

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