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Tuesday, June 3, 2008


Jules Dassin was coming into his own when he directed this last U.S. pic before being blacklisted. His helming on BRUTE FORCE, THE NAKED CITY & this film show just the sort of noir specialist he was born to be, and he’d top these with two noir masterpieces, NIGHT & THE CITY & RIFIFI, made in Europe. This film, a strong precursor for ON THE WATERFRONT, has the misfortune of falling directly on the fault-line between pure studio aesthetic (see THEY DRIVE BY NIGHT, based on the same materials) and Elia Kazin’s brand of poetic realism. The cast (Richard Conte, Valentina Cortese, Lee J Cobb, rehearsing his WATERFRONT role, and a wonderful turn from comedian Jack Oakie) give standout perfs, but THIEVES inevitably suffers as an early casualty in the post-WWII shift away from dramatic neatness.

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