Jules Dassin’s Cold War Crimes

Jules Dassin’s Cold War Crimes
Published: Sep 17, 2022
A chronicle of the Hollywood blacklist and a brilliant film noir director who survived it all to make one of the great heist films of all time — a film which became payback to his betrayers.

Jules Dassin in Rififi, journal of wildculture.com

“If you’re not useful to me anymore, why should I stick my neck out for you?” — underlines a key principle about loyalty and friendship for Dassin, personally and politically. [o]

During the the 1930s and 1940s in the film industry in Hollywood, writers and directors became increasingly politicized in response to the economic effects of the Great Depression, caused partly by disruptions to the headstrong systems of capitalism and finance, but also because of the rampant status quo conditions of social inequity. The politicization of these writers and directors led to the creation and distribution of socially conscious films that fit their particular formula for success: entertain, enlighten, make a profit. Movies and politics in the United States entered a battlefield together as a result of, as Rebecca Prime writes, “the tensions dividing Hollywood during a period of intense political, economic upheaval… [w]ith America rapidly embracing the new conservative, capitalist ethos of the Cold War.”1 As a consequence, the politically-motivated lobby sought to target film industry creators who they believed had a “traitorous” influence on nativist, so-called “All-American” ideals, and that these producers, writers and directors needed to be called-out and muzzled. The result, the Hollywood blacklist, was a collaboration between film moguls and politicians.


A prime motivating force of the Hollywood moguls in collaborating with HUAC was not so much the rooting out of communists but their ferocious need to control the screens.


The years of the Hollywood blacklist devastated the careers of many writers and directors, and few were able to recover. One director, Jules Dassin, despite serious hardship immediately after fleeing the US to avoid testifying before HUAC, was able to fulfill the promise of his talent in Europe and become a major influence to young directors, notably in the French New Wave. Central to his influence was his directorial skill and vision in crime films, many of which became popular at the box office. Yet they were also provided a way for him to subtly express what he felt from his experience in politicized Hollywood.

Dassin and his colleagues working at Hollywood studios were keenly aware of how different types of film narratives could best be vehicles for their works that simultaneously served the formula to entertain, enlighten, make a profit formula. Of the many narrative genres — the Western, musical, the war picture, the domestic drama, to name a few — the crime film was one of the most frequently chosen, partly because of its effectiveness as a “metaphor of social relations.”1a Without surveying the full scope of Dassin’s career, it is possible to get a sense of the essence of his politically-informed artistic development by examing three of his crime films, The Naked City, Night and the City, and Riffifi. As well as being important films for Dassin's contributions as a movie director, they reflect his experience of the social and ideological turmoil during the Cold War.  


Boycott the Movies! poster, journal of wildculture.com 2022

Dark Protestantism. "The politically-motivated lobby sought to target film industry creators who they believed had a “traitorous” influence on nativist, so-called “All-American” ideals." [o]


To get an accurate history of Hollywood blacklist, a few myths need to be addressed.2 First, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) — formed in 1938 “to investigate alleged disloyalty and subversive activities on the part of private citizens, public employees, and those organizations suspected of having either fascist or communist ties fascist and communist ties”3 — had a somewhat symbiotic relationship with the Hollywood film industry. So to understand the response by Hollywood studio executives to the HUAC campaign we need to be aware of one of the film industry's fundamental business strategies. In The Inquisition in Hollywood: Politics in the Film Community, 1930-1960, authors Ceplair and Englund make the case that a prime motivating force of the Hollywood moguls in ‘collaborating’ with HUAC was not so much the rooting out of its communists but its ferocious need to control the screens.4

Second, the appearance of HUAC in the late thirties did not come out of nowhere. From 1917-1920, the first Red Scare coincided with the Russian Revolution that replaced the Romanov dynasty; it spread fear internationally of Bolshevism, anarchism, and the possibility that another Vladimir Lenin would come forth in some other country.5 Between 1918 and 1937, several US Congress committees paved the way for HUAC, so though we may think of Joseph McCarthy as a prime instigator of the movement that brought about the blacklist, he was actually one of many politicians after World War I seeking to cleanse the United States of so-called subversives.

Third, the myth of Hollywood communists as political agitators was far-fetched. The Communist Party’s appeal during the Depression was widespread among liberals in the US, driven by its ideas of social equity and communitarianism, but also because its position on anti-Nazi and pro-New Deal activities.6 Given the social and economic problems of the Great Depression and the tendency for all progressive intellectuals at the time to search for effective solutions, if only in private discourse, these people were insistent that they find answers to these problems, which led them to feed upon the classic political economy source materials of Locke, Rousseau, Burke, Mill, Spencer, and, more specifically, Marx’s prescription in Das Kapital’s salve for all that ails a capitalist society. That is, these were not insurgent anarchists bent on assassination; they were thinking people seriously exploring questions of social justice and economic change.

As an example, one successful Hollywood director, Robert Rossen, who went on to direct The Hustler with Paul Newman, had been a member of the American Communist Party (CPUSA) for ten years until he was blacklisted in 1947. His view of the Party was that it was “dedicated to social causes of the sort that we as poor Jews from New York were interested in.”7 Dassin, who had also been a member of CPUSA until 1939 — when he was disabused by the news that the USSR had entered into a nonaggression pact with Hitler — had a similar view: “You grow up in Harlem where there’s trouble getting fed and keeping families warm, and live very close to Fifth Avenue, which is elegant. You fret, you get ideas, seeing a lot of poverty around you, and it’s a very natural process.”8 As today, many people regarded socialism as one of several viable political alternatives. But in a period of history when the Red Scare was in a fertile stage, members of the progressive intelligentsia had something to fear.


Albert Maltz mugshot, Hollywood Blacklist, journal of wildculture.com

Refusal to name names . . . mug shot of Albert Maltz taken at Mill Point Federal Prison in West Virginia on July 17, 1950. [o]


Not unlike Rossen's cultural background, Dassin was one of seven Jewish children of a barber in Harlem and grew up to be predisposed to what progressive politics offered. From an early age he acted in the Yiddish theatre, after which he undertook a lengthy study in dramatic technique in Europe. At 25, he joined the Federal Theatre Project and the Communist Party USA and did extensive work in radio and theatre in New York as a director. In 1940, he was signed to RKO in Hollywood as a director. Though he was unhappy during his first six months there, only getting to do assistant director jobs that bored him, there was one exception — working with Alfred Hitchcock. Dassin studied Hitchcock so carefully that one day on the set the director, “in jest, started checking with [him] to see if the take was okay.”9 The influence of Hitchcock on all directors of crime films which used suspense as a key element to propel the narrative is inestimable. Dassin's natural talent as a filmmaker was developed and refined by years of study and experience as an actor and director in theatre and radio, so he didn’t need Hitchcock to activate his gifts. Yet, to work with one of the geniuses of cinema whose deep understanding of the grammar of communicating with and respecting an audience was gold for any inquisitive director. One of those was Francois Truffaut, who later authored a book with Hitchcock. He offered a good definition of suspense: “Suspense is simply the dramatization of a film’s narrative, or if you will, the most intense presentation possible of dramatic situations.”10 As we'll see, especially in Riffifi, when it came to suspense, Dassin could play at Hitch’s level.




Fed up with his time at RKO where he didn’t get to direct, Dassin went to MGM and offered to direct for free; instead, they offered to pay him to direct a 20-minute short of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-tale Heart. When it was released in theatres (as the short before the feature), it was an immediate success, which led to him getting an MGM director’s contract.11The Tell-tale Heart is an important film in our consideration of Dassin as director of crime films, not just because it got him into MGM where he directed many other pictures, but also because, as his first film, and first crime film, it demonstrates his skill in the thriller genre, specifically in terms of ominous mood, eery soundtrack, and guidance with actors on how to inhabit the mental condition that belongs to contemplating or committing a crime. In a review of the film, critic Richard Corliss’ called Dassin an “auteur” who was “the prime developer of the movie crime caper.” Of The Tell-Tale Heart he wrote that it “was possibly the very first movie to be influenced by Citizen Kane (which came out less than six months before) . . . with Joseph Schildkraut as the guilt-stricken killer, [it] is positively a-swill in Wellesian tropes: the crouching camera, the chiaroscuro lighting, the mood-deepening use of silences and sound effects.”12 It also owes a great deal to Hitchcock with its many tracking shots, subjective POV editing, and extreme close-ups of the criminal’s ear while the ghostly heartbeats pound in the mind of the murderer.13 In Dassin’s subsequent crime films, many Hitchcock influences can be detected; for instance, the Williamsburg Bridge final chase and death fall scene in The Naked City (1948) evokes the ending of Hitchcock’s Saboteur (1942).

Of the seven films that Dassin made in his 5 years at MGM, none were clunkers, yet they are not the ones we remember him for. It was a time when he was learning his craft with the best motion picture crews in the world. He was also beginning to realize what many young directors learned in Hollywood, that “writing a financially successful script and the political goal of changing society were incompatible.”14 When his five-year contract with MGM expired, he looked around for an opportunity that would enable him to choose his own properties and experiment with new cinematic techniques. Mark Hellinger, a well-known newspaper columnist turned movie producer who wanted to make films of real-life urban stories, hired Dassin immediately and promised him the freedom and experimentation he wanted. Using a style that combined realism and semi-documentary techniques,15 which was slowly becoming accepted in Hollywood, he began work with Hellinger on a police procedural, The Naked City. Coming from similar backgrounds and political sensibilities; Hellinger came from a Jewish family in Manhattan, and his formal education ended when he was expelled for organizing a student strike in high school. Both shared a vision of The Naked City (1947) as a film about the problem-ridden and conflicted urban environment of New York, Bowery bums and Uptown socialites crossing paths,16 and large outdoor location scenes on the streets in the middle of the East Side to give it the authenticity of a documentary.


e Jules Dassin and Burt Lancaster, journal of wildculture.com_.jpg

Jules Dassin preparing Burt Lancaster for a scene in the influential prison drama Brute Force, 1947, Dassin's attempt to call attention to "the brutality and insensitivity of a prison system that offers no chance for rehabilitation." (Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews, film review, October 23, 2004.) [o]


The writer of the film, Albert Maltz, also shared this vision and the producer and director’s interest in debates about political and economic alternatives; Maltz, who was to become a major force against the blacklist, was more politically active than Dassin or Hellinger. During the 1930s he had written plays for the Theatre union, “an organization of theatre artists and [pro-Communist] political activists who mounted professional productions of plays oriented towards working people and their middle-class allies.”17 And, three years before Naked City, he had written an article18 in a national Marxist magazine that criticized his fellow Communists for writing inferior work due to their putting political concerns before artistic ones.19 A great uproar ensued in which he was ostracized by the CPUSA, forced to publish a rebuttal, and “publicly denounce himself onstage at a writer's symposium chaired by party members.”20

On the last day of shooting Naked City in the fall of 1947, the HUAC hearings began and Maltz was one of the first to be called. He showed up but refused utterly to testify. Instead, he delivered a famous denunciation of the Committee’s constitutionality and rebuked it for its activities.21 At the hearings a few days later, Dassin’s name was mentioned as one of five “known Communists in Hollywood.”22 A bigger drama than they were able to put on the screen was about to begin for Naked City’s writer and director.

Like Maltz, others were standing up for the freedom of Hollywood creative community and against the purpose of the hearings. I have already mentioned how Hollywood moguls collaborated with the conservative political forces intent on the blacklist because it served their determination to ‘control the screens,’ and this point is addressed by one of Hollywood’s most successful directors at the time, William Wyler, speaking on behalf of the Committee for the First Amendment, which he co-founded with fellow director John Huston and others. In a live radio broadcast on Oct. 26, 1947, two days before Albert Maltz appeared, Wyler declared: “I’m convinced I would not have been allowed to make The Best Years of Our Lives as it was made a year ago. They are making decent people afraid to express their opinions. They are creating fear in Hollywood. Fear will result in self-censorship. Self-censorship will paralyze the screen. And in the last analysis you will suffer. You will be deprived of entertainment that stimulates you, and you will be given a diet of pictures which conform to some people’s arbitrary standards of entertainment and Americanism.”23




Six months later, in March 1948, Dassin sat through the premiere of Naked City and was heartbroken. Though the film became an instant critical and box office success, and his first big break, he felt his film had been butchered. In light of the HUAC hearings, Universal Studios was nervous about the inclusion of any socialist content (especially given its director and writer were being identified by HUAC as subversives) and ended up recutting the film and leaving out much its social message and many scenes displaying Dassin’s directorial brilliance. Though Naked City’s semi-documentary style vitalizes a fairly plodding police procedure story through its use of actual New York crowd scenes, much is lost of Dassin’s trademark abilities with suspense, high-contrast lighting, and dramatic impact through powerful performances. Naked City is not recognizable as the work of the director of Thieves Highway (1949), The Night and the City (1950) and Du rififi chez les hommes (1955), three films that affirmed Dassin’s reputation as one of the most distinguished practitioners of the film noir style, yet its semi-documentary use of actual New York City locations, with New Yorkers going about their daily business, is a far cry from the version of the city depicted on a Hollywood studio lot.

In the HUAC hearings, as early as 1947, Dassin had been named by several witnesses in connection with Communist-front organizations. In 1949 Darryl Zanuck, for whom Dassin was working at 20th Century Fox, brought the director into his office and warned him that he would probably be blacklisted soon.24 He then gave Dassin a copy of the novel Night in the City and sent him to London to begin production on a film of it immediately, with instructions to film the expensive scenes early on so the studio would be less inclined to cancel the production if Dassin was blacklisted.25 Dassin remained in Europe and didn't return to the US until the 70s.

After the release of Night in the City in 1950, which became one of his most powerfully dramatic films and a shining example of his grasp of the chiaroscuro film noir style (a term not yet invented). Dassin moved to France where he remained unemployed; no film producer would hire him because if they did, the long and spidery Hollywood network would neutralize them as well. They were difficult times financially until, in 1955, he was offered a film based on "an unreadable novel" (Dassin words), Du rififi chez les hommes, about a band of criminals. By throwing out almost everything in the novel and using a brief jewel robbery as his dramatic focus, Dassin created what is now regarded as one of the best heist films ever.

To explore how the political circumstances of Dassin’s career came through in his treatment of the crime film, we must look closely Rififi. But part of Dassin’s story is told in his own words about the culture of Hollywood. The first story is this: Dassin arrives at the office to begin his first day as a director at MGM. He gets a call from Joseph Mankiewicz who ask if he plays baseball. If so, would he be willing audition to play in the big MGM vs 20th Century Fox baseball game? Dassin says he does play baseball, attends the audition and passes. On the day of the match, he is the hero of the game. “I could do no wrong,” he says. The next day he returns to his office with an urgent message to call his agent. “Did you sign your contract?” shouts the agent over the phone. “I did,” says Dassin. “Oh, no! I could have gotten you a lot more money after that baseball game!” Dassin rolls his eyes with a scoffing smirk that suggests the fickleness of his colleagues, “Hollywood . . .”

The second story is about Robert Rossen. Rossen had refused to cooperate with HUAC and because of this his family became targets of shaming and ridicule. Wives asked their blacklisted husbands, who cares about principles! What about feeding your family? “So, Bob explained to his children,” says Dassin, “why it was wrong to name friends and betray people. He made the kids understand that, and they handled it well. But then Bob broke down and named all sorts of people, and his kids were in bad shape for many, many years after that.”26


Jule Dassin's rififi_heist scene, journal of wild culture 2022

Dassin's Rififi is built around one of the great crime scenes in the history of film, the jewelry store heist. It is 30 minutes in length and entirely without music or dialogue. [o]


As a blacklisted director himself, Dassin would be interviewed multiple times until his death in 2008 about his experience of the effects of Cold War politics on the film industry and its tragic effects on people’s lives. But his story about the baseball game and the Hollywood community’s capricious, here-today-gone-tomorrow mentality toward its members — implying that “If you’re not useful to me anymore, why should I stick my neck out for you?” — underlines a key principle about loyalty and friendship for him, personally and politically. For Dassin, Rififi is an eloquent response to the shame of the Hollywood blacklist that also takes into consideration the stories about the baseball game and Robert Rossen’s tragedy as indicators of the mutability of Hollywood’s moral culture. “Rififi, for me,” said Dassin, “above all is a film about friendship.”27 In this story about a quartet of skilled thieves who plan an elaborate heist to steal valuable jewels, Dassin reinforces the themes of friendship in general, friendship during a crisis, and the importance that loyalty in friendship presumes. The behaviour of the criminals in Rififi support his allegorizing the blacklist through the loss of friends, their betrayal of friendship, and his experience of living in exile “under conditions not dissimilar to those of the alienated, persecuted protagonists of the film noirs they wrote or directed.”28 (Notably, the script for Rififi was written by Dassin because the novel he was given to adapt made no sense to him; so, we need to bear in mind that this film is a work of his imagination using only a small part of the original novel, the heist.29 A young Francois Truffaut, working as a film critic in Paris in the 1950s, said, “From the worst crime novel I have ever read, Jules Dassin has made the best film noir I have ever seen.”30).

When Tony, the mastermind of the heist, is released from prison and needs some instant cash to stay in a poker game, he makes a phone call to Jo, who leaves his young son and wife and comes immediately. Tony apologizes for having to drag him away, but Jo says, “If you’d squawked on me five years ago, you’d be slipping me some cash now,” thereby establishing that instead of informing on Jo, Tony took the wrap for Jo’s crime and went to prison. Next, when Tony meets up with his former girlfriend, Mado, who now has a new boyfriend, he says to her, “In May I got busted and in June you were on the Riviera with a gigolo.” As punishment, Tony tells Mado to take off her clothes and he whips her bare back with a belt. This is seven minutes into the film in which we’re given the consequences of loyalty and disloyalty — and for Tony, disloyalty appears to be the equivalent of betrayal. With Dassin at the helm (not unlike Hitchcock) — with a lifetime of experience in theatre, radio and making films in Hollywood — the audience is being taken on a little trip in which every action or line of dialogue in a scene serves its role in setting up the crime’s denouement.

Tony, Jo and a colleague, Mario, begin planning the robbery of a high-end jewelry store, but they need a good safecracker. Mario knows someone, an Italian named César, calls him, and while he’s waiting for the line to engage he offers this as an introduction to the others about César: “There is not a safe that can resist César, and there is not a woman that César can resist.” — a classic use of clever but economically directive dialogue: we know Cesar can do the job, and that he has a weakness. As the captain of this crew, Tony is attentive to this information, as he is to any detail that might threaten the smooth running of the job. And, like Tony, we as the audience following the story are now wondering how this Don Juan might throw a wrench into the delicate clockwork of the crime — which, given the core theme, would relate to friend, loyalty and team play. If we are paying close attention, we know it will, since every scene featuring César (played by Dassin himself) in the first half of the film highlights his vulnerability to pretty women.


The scene is a rhapsodic sequence of manual tasks, part silent opera, part choreographic art . . . “an ode to work.”


Tony, Jo, Mario and César spend many days and nights making preparations for the heist. Working in twos or sometimes all together, they work closely and effectively, each the master of his craft. For viewers of this film in 1955 — a time of political uncertainty shadowed by the Cold War and the bubbling threat of atomic war — the thrill of watching a small team of professionals work hard at a complex plan to bring off a caper and outwit the authorities cannot be underestimated. Good crime films are irresistible entertainment because they offer, like a dream about being naughty, the experience of forbidden fruit without the penalty. When done well, as Dassin does here, it is affordable emotional and intellectual pleasure — due partly because of the excitement of seeing people in the flow of efficient collective team labour, deftly executed, and where they’re having a kind of professional fun; due partly by watching the crooks get the better of the ruling authorities (that fiendish glee we take as children seeing our parents outmanoeuvred); and due partly to the dramatic irony of being in the caper ourselves, that we are along for the dangerous ride, which a director like Dassin or Hitchcock have learned how to get us to do.

Arriving at the door of the concierge who lives behind the jewelry store . . . a husband and wife are chloroformed and, with firmness but not violence, gagged and tied up while the thieves proceed to their labour . . . a flashlight in the darkness inspects the store owner’s apartment above the store like car lights on a road at night . . . someone hits a piano key with his elbow and is shushed . . . a carpet is rolled up to reveal the hardwood floor that is dug into with heavy chisel . . . only the eyes of the robbers speak . . . as a hole is dug in the floor a clock shows midnight . . . then 1 am, then 3 am . . . the robbers descend on a knotted rope down into the store . . . the heavy safe is painstakingly lowered to expose the back . . . the safe-cracker uses his metal cutting tools to begin cutting a hole in the safe . . . 4 am, 5 am, 6 am . . . the jewels are removed from the safe . . . one by one, the thieves ascend back through the whole in the ceiling with the bag of jewels . . . César is the last to climb the rope. . . at the last minute he descends, goes back into the store and retrieves a large diamond ring . . . he puts it in his pocket and returns up the rope . . .
The heist scene in Rififi is a brilliant example of innovative cinematic art for several reasons. First, in the 30-minute scene there is not one word of dialogue or one bar of music, only the live sound of the job being done. Second, the scene shows criminals working together to break into a store, steal some jewels and get out safely, yet in Dassin’s hands it becomes a rhapsodic sequence of manual tasks, an homage to collective, skilled nuts and bolts labour, part silent opera, part choreographic art, what Philip Watts called “an ode to work.”31 Third, it shows, rather than tells, how cohesion of purpose between fellow workers is a thing of beauty never to be underestimated for its power to demonstrate what can be accomplished under duress through thoughtfulness, preparation and cooperation, and that is the stuff that makes a better world. But also, there is a French context to the team’s shared achievement that Rebecca Prime cites: “[T]he film’s emphasis on loyalty and solidarity would have resonated with the experience of the Resistance and the dangerous consequences of the betrayal.”32


Jules Dassin as César in Rififi, journal of wildculture.com 2022

Dassin in the role of the betrayer, César, who must face the consequences of breaking the criminals' code of loyalty. [o]


The story of the big jewel heist becomes front page news. What Tony, Jo and Mario don’t know is that César the diamond ring he went back to get during the heist has been given to his girlfriend who works at a club run by gangsters. Seeing the ring, the gangsters get her to tell them where it came from, and when they find César they force him to tell them where the rest of the jewels are. If it was Tony in this situation, we know he would die by torture rather than give them the information. Confronted by the gangsters, César has his opportunity — as if in front of HUAC and the whole world — to honour the commitment to his friends, but no, he informs on the others. Tony finds César, his hands tied to a post like a prisoner waiting to face a firing squad, and says, “I liked you, Macaroni, but you know the rules.” César nods, “The rules.” Years after the film was released, Dassin confirmed that he was applying his experience with the blacklist when he created the César le Milanais character, as a writer and an actor: “I was thinking of all my friends,” he recalls in 1985, “who at that moment, during the McCarthy era, betrayed other friends. I was thinking of those who couldn’t take the pressure.”33

The price of breaking the code of silence of the brotherhood is clear in Rififi, but it wasn’t in the case of Hollywood director Edward Dmytryk who stood before the US Congress and named names, including Dassin’s, to save his career.34 Despite the hardship of his exile, Dassin never caved. When he spoke about his friends who couldn’t take the pressure, he was also referring to himself and the friends, like Maltz, who could take the pressure. And those who chose to go to jail rather sacrifice others by naming them. During the making of Rififi, Dassin told a reporter that the film was about “how men retain their humanity even when they live outside the moral order.”35

In addition to giving Dassin the satisfaction of being able to write and play a role where he stood — again, allegorically, as César, in the place of his betrayers — he won the 1955 Best Director Palme d’Or at Cannes for Rififi, and also, having negotiated 20% in the future profits from the film, which went on to be very popular, the economic difficulties of his exile up to that point were relieved. From there he went on to direct 12 films before retiring at 69, and living until the age of 96 in 2008.

“This mixture of documentary with the lyrical in my films,” said Dassin, “represents my search for cinematic truth, even when limited to thrillers or detective stories." Why? "I am drawn to crime stories," he said, "because I consider myself ‘a rebel’ who likes to see authority conquered.”36≈ç



1  Prime, Rebecca; Neve, Brian; Krutnik, Frank ; Neale, Steve; Stanfield, Peter. ‘Cloaked in Compromise: Jules Dassin’s ‘Naked’ City.’ ’Un-American' Hollywood, 2020, p.142; Ithaca, NY: Rutgers University Press, p. 143.

1a  Grant, Barry Keith. “Taking Back the Night of the Living Dead: George Romero, Feminism, and the Horror Film.” Zombie Theory: A Reader, edited by Sarah Juliet Lauro, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis; London, 2017, pp. 212–222.

2  Deinum, Andries. Film Quarterly 34, no. 2 (1980): 60–62. https://doi.org/10.2307/1211917.

3  “House Un-American Activities Committee”, Wikipedia article.

4  Ceplair, & Englund, S. The Inquisition in Hollywood : Politics in the Film Community, 1930-1960. Anchor Press/Doubleday. 1980.

5  ‘The Red Scare”, A&E Television Networks, June 1, 2010. https://www.history.com/topics/cold-war/red-scare

6  Deinum, 61.

7  LoBianco, Lorraine. “Directed by Robert Rossen.” Turner Classic Movies. A Time Warner Company. Retrieved July 17, 2010. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Rossen#cite_note-FOOTNOTELoBianco_…

8  Severo, Richard. ‘Jules Dassin, Filmmaker on Blacklist, Dies at 96.’ New York Times, April 1, 2008. https://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/01/movies/01dassin.html

9  Gunz, Joel. “Jules Dassin: Hitchcock's "Wrong Man?” Alfred Hitchcock Geek, website. http://www.alfredhitchcockgeek.com/2013/01/jules-dassin-hitchcocks-wron…

10  Truffaut, Francois, Alfred Hitchcock. Hitchcock. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1966.

11  ‘Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and loan-out to Eagle-Lion Films (1941-1946),’ “Jules Dassin.” Wikipedia article.

12  Corliss, Richard. ‘Master of the Heist.’ Time. April 6, 2008. https://web.archive.org/web/20080407234142/http://www.time.com/time/art…

13  Gunz.

14  Ceplair and Englund, p. 20.

15  'Daily News from Los Angeles, California on April 9, 1947', p. 25. Newspapers.com. Retrieved December 4, 2021. https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/689291219/

16  Prime (2020), 142.

17  Hyman, Collette (1996). “Politics meet popular entertainment,” In Radical Revisions: Rereading 1930s Culture. Mullen, Bill; Linkon, Sherry Lee (eds.). University of Illinois, p. 211.

18  Maltz, Albert. "What shall we ask of writers?", The New Masses, February 12, 1946, pages 19–22.

19  "Albert Maltz," Wikipedia article.

20   Sbardellati, John. "'The Maltz Affair' revisited: how the American Communist Party relinquished its cultural influence at the dawn of the Cold War," Cold War History, vol. 9, no. 4, November 2009, p. 489: “Nearly 30 years after Maltz's death, the 'Albert Maltz Affair' still was a subject of discussion among scholars of Marxist movements and of the Hollywood Ten. John Sbardellati of the University of Waterloo argued in the journal Cold War History that "by reigning [sic] in Albert Maltz, the Party rejected its earlier, more accommodating approach to popular culture, and in doing so, unwittingly forfeited a large measure of its cultural influence" and that this shift contributed to the rapid decline of "social problem films" that had emerged early in the post-war era.”

21  Botter, David. "Probers defied: Film-writing trio cited in contempt," The Dallas Morning News, page 1: "The House un-American activities committee Tuesday cited three more movie script writers with contempt of Congress for their defiant refusal to answer 'yes' or 'no' to the question: 'Are you or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?’

22  United States. Congress. House. Committee on Un-American Activities (1947).  Hearings regarding the communist infiltration of the motion picture industry. Hearings before the Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives, Eightieth Congress, first session. Public law 601 (section 121, subsection Q (2)). Boston Public Library. Washington, U.S. Govt.

23  Deinum, p. 3.

24  Cineaste (magazine), Dan Georgakas, spring 2007, p.72

25  martinezmarcio1, “Jules Dassin on being blacklisted & Rififi.” July 4, 2012. YouTube video. https://www.youtube.com/embed/j2F31S8Zm1w

26  Ibid.

27  Nulles Part Aillweurs, Canal+, June 21, 1999; 20H: Le Journal Cinéma, France 2, August 12, 1999.

28  Prime. (2014), p. 83.

29  martinezmarcio1.

30  Corliss.

31  Philip Watts. “Rififi and the Politics of Silence,” L’Esprit Créateur 51.3 (2011): 49.

32  Rebecca Prime. (2014). “The Blacklist, Exile, and the Transatlantic Noir.” In Hollywood Exiles in Europe (p. 83–). Rutgers University Press.

33  Prime, 2014, p. 94. Quote from “Jules Dassin.” Étoiles et Toiles, TF1, June 10, 1985.

34  Nguyen, Nicole. ‘Code of Silence: Rififi and the Red Scare.’ The Frida Cinema.

35  “Jules Dassin interview with Claude Chabrol and François Truffaut, in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), April and May 1955

36  Shelley, Peter. Jules Dassin: The Life and Films. London: McFarland & Co. P. 148.



WHITNEY SMITH is the Publisher/Editor and founder of the Journal of Wild Culture. In 1980, while driving taxi in Toronto, he picked up a man on his way to work. In their conversation, the man revealed that he was in town to direct a film. When Smith asked his name, the man introduced himself as Jules Dassin. "You directed Never on Sunday! "I did", said Dassin. Smith remembers having a delightful conversation where Dassin was warm, gentle, curious, thoughtful, and urbane in a most unassuming way.




Submitted by Manfred (not verified) on Mon, 09/26/2022 - 21:14


More than 20 original sources for your article . . . that exceeds many academic essays I get to read in a Cinema and Media Studies graduate program. Very impressive. Kudos to you! And the inciting incident was a client in your taxi, 40+ years ago.

Mon, 09/26/2022 - 21:14

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