Made in France in 1955, Rififi helped write the rule book for the heist-gone-sour movie. There's the master thief Tony Le Stéphanois (Jean Servais), just out of jail and back at work (not unlike helmer Jules Dassin, back directing after McCarthyite blacklisting forced him to leave Hollywood) with a diamond heist that's carried out to perfection. And then, natch, there's the greed and desire, tossing a spanner into the meticulous mechanics...
Yet there's plenty to distinguish the film, even now. The 30-minute heist sequence, in particular, remains unsurpassed - the decision to shoot it without music or dialogue giving it real punch. Such precision filmmaking is evident throughout, but this isn't a cold, heartless affair - the terse plotting gains in resonance as it turns to the human imponderables the thieves can't plan for.
It's a crack combination: character dynamics, fatalism and the codes of criminality, all set against a poetic evocation of the Parisian underworld.