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Jules Dassin: In Exile, American Became an Auteur

Director Jules Dassin, the American-born auteur behind the 1955 film-noir masterpiece Rififi, died March 31 in Athens. He was 96.

Rififi, a safe-cracking caper that earned a long-delayed reissue in 2000, helped create the modern multiplex appetite for heist movies. But it went virtually unseen at the time of its initial release: Dassin had been blacklisted in Hollywood for joining the Communist Party in his youth. He left the U.S. in the early 1950s.

He met and married actress Melina Mercouri — later Greece's minister of culture — and went on to collaborate with her in the hit films Never on Sunday and Topkapi (the inspiration for Mission: Impossible). Dassin also acted wrote screenplays. We remember him with an interview that first aired on Oct. 8, 2001.

Copyright 2023 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

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