“I liked you…”
Blacklisted expat Director Jules Dassin found himself in France and out of work, leading to this hugely influential and effective caper. When the actor cast as the safecracker dropped out, the budget-conscious Dassin stepped in, thus an American found himself directing a French cast while playing an Italian. The fate of his character was Dassin’s statement on those back home who were complicit in the injustice of the blacklist that forced him to leave his country - an exile that ironically produced his defining work.
The film’s middle act features what is arguably the heist by which all other heists should be measured, ruthless in its efficiency, simplicity, inventiveness and craft. And one that mocks the many attempts that have been made to top it.
Also worth watching is Dassin’s other, lighter caper, Topkapi. Taken together, their influence on films like Michael Mann’s Thief and DePalma’s Mission: Impossible is unmistakable.