Jules Dassin

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Jules Dassin
Joe and Jules Dassin 1970.jpg
Jules Dassin (right) with son Joe in Paris in 1970
Born
Julius Dassin

(1911-12-18)December 18, 1911
DiedMarch 31, 2008(2008-03-31) (aged 96)
Athens, Greece
Spouse(s)
Béatrice Launer
(m. 1937;div. 1962)

(m. 1966;died 1994)
Children Joseph Ira Dassin
Richelle Dassin
Julie Dassin  [ fr ]

Julius "Jules" Dassin (December 18, 1911 – March 31, 2008) was an American film director, producer, writer and actor. He was a subject of the Hollywood blacklist in the McCarthy era, and subsequently moved to France, where he continued his career.

Contents

Biography

Early life

Dassin was born in Middletown, Connecticut, one of eight children of Berthe Vogel and Samuel Dassin, a barber. His parents were both Jewish immigrants from Odessa, in modern-day Ukraine. [1] Dassin grew up in Harlem and went to Morris High School in the Bronx. During his youth he attended Camp Kinderland, the left-wing Yiddish youth camp. He joined the Communist Party USA in the 1930s and left it after the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact in 1939.

Early career

Dassin started as an actor with the ARTEF ( Yiddish Proletarian Theater ) company in New York. He collaborated on a film with Jack Skurnick that was uncompleted because of Skurnick's early death.

In 1940 he moved to Hollywood and became an assistant director at RKO Pictures before moving to MGM where he made short films including The Tell-Tale Heart (1941) which led to him being promoted to direct feature films. [2]

Dassin quickly became better known for his noir films Brute Force (1947), The Naked City (1948), and Thieves' Highway (1949), which helped him to become regarded as "one of the leading American filmmakers of the postwar era." [3]

Hollywood Blacklist

Dassin said that in 1948, Darryl F. Zanuck called him into his office to inform him he would be blacklisted, but he still had enough time to make a movie for Fox. [4] Dassin was blacklisted in Hollywood during the production of Night and the City (1950). [5] He was not allowed on the studio property to edit or oversee the musical score for the film. [6] He also had trouble finding work abroad, as U.S. distribution companies blacklisted the U.S. distribution of any European film associated with artists blacklisted in Hollywood. In 1952, after Dassin had been out of work for two years, actress Bette Davis hired him to direct her in the Broadway revue Two's Company . The show closed early, however, and Dassin left for Europe.

Move to Europe

Dassin did not work as a film director again until Rififi in 1955 (a French production), his most influential film and an early work in the "heist film" genre. He won the Best Director award for the film at the 1955 Cannes Film Festival.

It inspired later heist films, such as Ocean's Eleven (1960). [3] Another film it inspired was Dassin's own heist film Topkapi (1964), filmed in France and Istanbul, Turkey with his future second wife, Melina Mercouri and Oscar winner Peter Ustinov.

Most of Dassin's films in the decades following the blacklist are European productions. [3] His later career in Europe and the affiliation with Greece through his second wife, combined with the Frenchified pronunciation of his surname in Europe (as "Da-SAn" instead of the common American "DASS-ine") led to a common misconception that he was a native European director. [6]

Melina Mercouri

At the Cannes Film Festival in May 1955 he met Melina Mercouri, Greek actress and wife of Panos Harokopos. [3] At about the same time, he discovered the literary works of Nikos Kazantzakis; these two elements created a bond with Greece. Dassin next made He Who Must Die (1957) based on Kazantzakis' Christ Recrucified and in which Mercouri appeared. She went on to star in his Never on Sunday (1960) for which she won best actress at the Cannes Film Festival. [7] She then starred in his next three films – Phaedra (1962), Topkapi (1964) and 10:30 P.M. Summer (1966).

He divorced his first wife, Béatrice Launer, in 1962 and married Mercouri in 1966. She later starred in his Promise at Dawn (1970)—during the filming of which, Dassin broke both his legs [8] —and later A Dream of Passion (1978).

Affiliation with Greece

Dassin was considered a major Philhellene to the point of Greek officials describing him as a "first generation Greek". Along with Mercouri, he opposed the Greek military junta.

The couple had to leave Greece after the colonels' coup in 1967. In 1970 they were accused of having financed an attempt to overthrow the dictatorship, but the charges were quickly dropped.[ citation needed ] Dassin and Mercouri lived in New York City during the 1970s; then, when the military dictatorship in Greece fell in 1974, they returned to Greece and lived out their lives there. In 1974 he and Mercouri made The Rehearsal about the junta.

While Mercouri became involved with politics and won a parliamentary seat, Dassin stayed with movie-making in Europe. In 1982 he was a member of the jury at the 34th Berlin International Film Festival. [9]

Death

Dassin died from complications of influenza at the age of 96; he was survived by his two daughters and his grandchildren. Upon his death, the Greek prime minister Costas Karamanlis released a statement: "Greece mourns the loss of a rare human being, a significant artist and true friend. His passion, his relentless creative energy, his fighting spirit and his nobility will remain unforgettable." [3]

A major supporter of the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Athens, for which he established the Melina Mercouri Institution in her memory after her death in 1994, he died a few months before the opening ceremony of the New Acropolis Museum. [7]

Personal life

Joe and Jules Dassin with Beatrice Launer in Paris in 1970 Dasin family 1970.jpg
Joe and Jules Dassin with Béatrice Launer in Paris in 1970

Dassin married twice. Before his marriage to Mercouri, he married Béatrice Launer in 1937; she was a New York–born, [ citation needed ] Jewish–American [ citation needed ] violinist (aka Beatrice Launer-Dassin; 1913–1994), [10] a graduate of the Juilliard School of Music. [11] They divorced in 1962. Their children were Joseph Ira Dassin, better known as Joe Dassin (1938–80), a popular French singer in the 1970s; songwriter Richelle "Rickie" Dassin (born 1940); and actress–singer Julie Dassin (born 1944; also known as Julie D.). [12]

Preservation

The Academy Film Archive has preserved Jules Dassin's film Night and the City, including the British and pre-release versions. [13]

In 2000, Rialto pictures restored and released Rififi theatrically. It was subsequently released on home video through The Criterion Collection and Arrow Films.

Filmography

YearTitleCredited as
Director Producer Writer ActorRoleNotes
1941 The Tell-Tale Heart Yes
1942 Nazi Agent Yes
The Affairs of Martha Yes
Reunion in France Yes
1943 Young Ideas Yes
1944 The Canterville Ghost Yes
1946 Two Smart People Yes
A Letter for Evie Yes
1947 Brute Force Yes
1948 The Naked City Yes
1949 Thieves' Highway Yes
1950 Night and the City Yes
1955 Rififi YesYesYesCésar le Milanais
1957 He Who Must Die YesYes
1959 The Law YesYes
1960 Never on Sunday YesYesYesYesHomer Thrace
1962 Phaedra YesYesYesYesChristoUncredited
1964 Topkapi YesYesYesTurkish copUncredited
1966 10:30 P.M. Summer YesYesYes
1968 Survival 1967 YesYes
Uptight YesYesYes
1970 Promise at Dawn YesYesYesYesIvan Mosjukine
1974 The Rehearsal YesYesYesHimself
1978 A Dream of Passion YesYesYes
1980 Circle of Two Yes

Related Research Articles

<i>Topkapi</i> (film) 1964 American film directed by Jules Dassin

Topkapi is 1964 Technicolor heist film produced by Filmways Pictures and distributed by United Artists.

Melina Mercouri

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<i>Never on Sunday</i> 1960 film directed by Jules Dassin

Never on Sunday is a 1960 Greek romantic comedy film, written by, directed by, and starring Jules Dassin.

Joe Dassin French-American musician (1938–1980)

Joseph "Joe" Ira Dassin was an American-born French singer-songwriter.

<i>Stella</i> (1955 film) 1955 Greek film

Stella is a 1955 Greek film is a retelling of Carmen featuring Melina Mercouri. The film was directed by the Greek Cypriot Michael Cacoyannis and written by Cacoyannis and Iakovos Kambanelis. The music was composed by Manos Hadjidakis and Vassilis Tsitsanis.

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<i>Rififi</i> 1955 French crime film by Jules Dassin

Rififi is a 1955 French crime film adaptation of Auguste Le Breton's novel of the same name. Directed by American blacklisted filmmaker Jules Dassin, the film stars Jean Servais as the aging gangster Tony "le Stéphanois", Carl Möhner as Jo "le Suédois", Robert Manuel as Mario Farrati, and Jules Dassin as César "le Milanais". The foursome band together to commit an almost impossible theft, the burglary of an exclusive jewelry shop on the Rue de Rivoli. The centerpiece of the film is an intricate half-hour heist scene depicting the crime in detail, shot in near silence, without dialogue or music. The fictional burglary has been mimicked by criminals in actual crimes around the world.

<i>Phaedra</i> (film) 1962 film directed by Jules Dassin

Phaedra is a 1962 American-Greek drama film directed by Jules Dassin as a vehicle for his partner Melina Mercouri, after her worldwide hit Never on Sunday.

<i>A Man Could Get Killed</i> 1966 film by Ronald Neame

A Man Could Get Killed is a 1966 adventure comedy film directed by Ronald Neame and Cliff Owen, shot on various locations in Portugal and starring James Garner, Melina Mercouri, Sandra Dee, Anthony Franciosa, and Robert Coote. Filmed scenes with Jenny Agutter, then 14, did not appear in the final cut.

Never on Sunday (song) 1960 single by Melina Mercouri

"Never on Sunday", also known by its original Greek title "Ta Pediá tou Pireá", is a popular song written by Manos Hatzidakis and first sung by Melina Mercouri in the film of same name, directed by Jules Dassin and starring Mercouri. The song won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1960, a first for a foreign-language picture. The film score to the movie was first released on 1 October 1960 by United Artists Records. The song has since been recorded by numerous artists, and has gained various degrees of success throughout the world.

The 22nd Golden Globe Awards, honoring the best in film for 1964 films, were held on February 8, 1965.

<i>Illya Darling</i>

Illya Darling is a musical with a book by Jules Dassin, music by Manos Hadjidakis, and lyrics by Joe Darion, based on Dassin's 1960 film Never on Sunday.

Nikos Kourkoulos was a highly respected Greek theatrical and film performer, one of the most talented and recognizable actors in Greece of modern times. Kourkoulos is best known to Greek audiences for playing "Angelos Kreouzis" in Oratotis miden, but he also appeared in other movies such as To Homa vaftike kokkino, Exodos kindynou, O Astrapogiannos, O Katiforos among others.

Stathis Giallelis is a Greek actor. He won brief international renown in the early 1960s as the star of Elia Kazan's Academy Award-nominated epic America America, a role which brought him the Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actor, as well as a nomination for Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama.

<i>He Who Must Die</i> 1957 film

He Who Must Die (French: Celui qui doit mourir is a 1957 French-Italian film directed by Jules Dassin. It is based on the novel Christ Recrucified by Nikos Kazantzakis. It was entered into the 1957 Cannes Film Festival.

Jack Skurnick

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<i>Promise at Dawn</i> 1970 film

Promise at Dawn is a 1970 American drama film directed by Jules Dassin and starring Melina Mercouri, Dassin's wife. It is based on the 1960 novel Promise at Dawn by Romain Gary and the subsequent play by Samuel A. Taylor.

<i>A Dream of Passion</i> 1978 film

A Dream of Passion is a 1978 Greek drama film directed by Jules Dassin. The story follows Melina Mercouri as Maya, an actress playing Medea, who seeks out Brenda Collins, portrayed by Ellen Burstyn, a woman who is in jail for murdering her own children to punish her husband for his infidelity.

1955 Cannes Film Festival

The 8th Cannes Film Festival was held from 26 April to 10 May 1955. The Golden Palm went to the US film Marty by Delbert Mann. The festival opened with Du rififi chez les hommes by Jules Dassin and closed with Carmen Jones by Otto Preminger.

34th Berlin International Film Festival Film festival

The 34th annual Berlin International Film Festival was held from 17–28 February 1984. The festival opened with The Noah's Ark Principle by Roland Emmerich.The Golden Bear was awarded to the American film Love Streams directed by John Cassavetes. The retrospective was dedicated to German-American actor, screenwriter, producer and film director Ernst Lubitsch. The Honorary Golden Bear was awarded to American director Jules Dassin and Greek actress Melina Mercouri and the Homage section was dedicated to the couple.

References

  1. David B. Green, This Day in Jewish History 1911: Blacklisted Director Who Became the Toast of Paris Is Born, Haaretz, 18 December 2015. Retrieved 30 May 2018.
  2. Katz, Ephraim (1998). The Macmillan International Film Encyclopedia (3rd ed.). New York: Macmillan. p. 333. ISBN   0-333-74037-8. OCLC   39216574.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Luther, Claudia (April 1, 2008). "Noir master directed caper classic 'Rififi'". Los Angeles Times . Retrieved September 28, 2015.
  4. Cineaste , Dan Georgakas, spring 2007, p.72
  5. The film was shot in 1949, see Duncan, Paul (July 2, 2014). "Why I Love: Night and the City (1950)". Port. Retrieved September 28, 2015.
  6. 1 2 Dassin, Jules (February 1, 2005). Night and the City (post-screening interview in DVD supplements). Criterion Collection.
  7. 1 2 (in Greek) Skai News Archived July 17, 2011, at the Wayback Machine , Απεβίωσε ο Ζυλ Ντασέν (Jules Dassin died), English (machine translation) Retrieved on April 1, 2008.
  8. "Dassin Breaks Both Legs In Freak Studio Accident". Variety . October 8, 1969. p. 2.
  9. "Berlinale: 1984 Juries". berlinale.de. Retrieved November 21, 2010.
  10. Beatrice Dassin. Genealogy Bank. Retrieved on July 26, 2015.
  11. The Juilliard School of Music, "The Baton", p. 12 Archived May 28, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  12. Julie D.. Rateyourmusic.com (July 19, 1945). Retrieved on July 26, 2015.
  13. "Preserved Projects". Academy Film Archive.