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'Rififi,' 'Topkapi': Kenneth Turan's film picks of the week

December 8, 2011 |  7:00 am

Forced to work in Europe because of the Hollywood blacklist, director Jules Dassin made excellent use of his opportunities, making among other films a pair of heist movies that just about redefined the genre.

Dassin's 1955 "Rififi" is one of the great crime thrillers, the benchmark against which all succeeding heist films have been measured. No musty museum piece but a driving, compelling work, redolent of the air of human frailty and fatalistic doom, this French item was called "the best film noir I have ever seen" by then-critic Francois Truffaut.

Made nearly a decade later, Dassin's "Topkapi" moves the scene from Paris to Istanbul and follows ace thief Melina Mercouri (Dassin's wife) as she and her team attempt to lift valuable emeralds from the Topkapi museum.

Nifty stuff all around, and viewable at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 14 at the American Cinematheque's Egyptian Theater, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood.


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-- Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times film critic

Photo: "Topkapi." Credit: LACMA

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