Jules Dassin with Romy Schneider and Melina Mercouri. “10:30 P.M. Summer.”
Jules Dassin was one of cinema’s most inventive, raw, soulful, intelligent auteurs. With movies like Thieves’ Highway, Brute Force, The Naked City and my favorite, Night and the City (featuring Richard Widmark’s greatest, most desperate, most quintessential noir performance) and the brilliant Rififi and Topkapi, as well as Never on Sunday, a popular picture that served as a valentine to his talented wife, actress Melina Mercouri, he was a force. He also directed 10:30 P.M. Summer, again featuring wife Mercouri with the added wow factor of Romy Schneider. Very good.
Dassin was a seminal figure who deserves the respect of a Hawkes, a Ford, a Hitchcock or a Kazan. And speaking of Kazan…Dassin suffered the vile witch-hunt of HUAC, and was blacklisted from Hollywood after director Edward Dmytryk named him as a communist. Dassin would fashion his aforementioned greatest work — Night and the City, in London, and later the influential Rififi, made in France. He died in 2008, but his work lives on.