TTYA – Rififi (1955)

It’s the word all the tough guys use.


When people talk about foreign cinema, people who aren’t well-versed in it usually assume people are talking about the stereotypical idea of a French movie. Super high brow, very pretentious, exists only to stroke the director’s ego, you know what I’m sayin’. Well, I’ve only seen one movie like that, Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless, and yes that is terrible. But most French movies I’ve seen are just like American crime or social dramas, only the French ones did it first. And this film, Rififi, is just like Kubrick’s The Killing, except Rififi is nowhere near as entertaining as The Killing.

Rififi isn’t the most boring thing ever made, but it’s definitely lacking in a lot of areas. For one thing, the actors seem very disinterested with what they’re doing. None of them really carry a consistent liveliness with them throughout the whole film, which you really need in a heist film. Would Ocean’s Eleven be any good if everyone in it acted with the same smug indifference that George Clooney does? No, it’d be boring as all hell. Well, unfortunately, practically every character in this film that isn’t the one guy’s wife or his kid does act in the same why, which isn’t necessarily smug, but is definitely indifferent. And that’s a damn shame, because thinking back on it, under a better director’s hands, the details of the guys heist would be very fascinating. Like, imagine if Robert Aldrich had remade this using the same style that he did with The Dirty Dozen. It’d be great, right?

After the heist, it becomes a rather bland kidnap drama, where they kidnap the guy’s son. I suppose it could have been handled a lot worse, but it’s not altogether well-handled, for mostly all the same reason that the heist isn’t all that well handled. I do like the very end though, with the guy speeding in his car. I don’t know quite how to describe the editing that happens in that scene, but once you see it, you immediately recognize it, and are like “Oh, so that’s where that comes from.”

The only scene in the movie that I like is the one where the girl sings Rififi. That’s the only other scene in this picture that feels like it has any style. And even then, the song has some of the dumbest lyrics ever, like “It’s the word that all the tough guys use.” That’s probably just something that got lost in translation, but it’s still really dumb.

For as much as I have ragged on it, though, I wouldn’t say Rififi is a bad movie, or even one that you shouldn’t watch. There’s plenty that I would understand people liking about it, not least of which is the fact that this is a 2 hour movie, and it moves along quite briskly. So I would actually recommend watching Rififi for yourself and forming your own opinions. Hell, pick it up the Criterion edition of it, it’s got one of the coolest cases. And if you don’t like it, send it to me I don’t have it yet.

Yeah, that’s a good idea, telling random people on the internet to send me things in the mail. The fuck is wrong with me?


Thank you, and remember kids, a¬†weak mind isn’t strong enough to hurt itself. Stupidity has saved many a man from going mad.


Also, check out the latest episode of my podcast.


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