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 revived his career.
Jules Dassin (right) with son Joe in Paris in 1970
December 18, 1911
Middletown, Connecticut, U.S.
|Died||March 31, 2008 (aged 96)|
(m. 1937; div. 1962)
(m. 1966; died 1994)
|Children||Joseph Ira Dassin|
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. 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. He started as a Yiddish actor with the ARTEF (Yiddish Proletarian Theater) company in New York. He collaborated on a film with Jack Skurnick that was incomplete because of Skurnick's early death.
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 "one of the leading American filmmakers of the postwar era."
Dassin's most influential film was Rififi (1955), an early work in the "heist film" genre. It inspired later heist films, such as Ocean's Eleven (1960). Another piece it inspired was Dassin's own heist film Topkapi, filmed in France and Istanbul, Turkey with Melina Mercouri and Oscar winner Peter Ustinov.
Dassin said Darryl F. Zanuck in 1948 called him into his office to inform him he would be blacklisted, but he still had enough time to make a movie for Fox. Dassin was blacklisted in Hollywood during the production of Night and the City (1950). He was not allowed on the studio property to edit or oversee the musical score for the film. 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. Dassin did not work as a film director again until Rififi in 1954 (a French production). Most of Dassin's films in the decades following the blacklist are European productions. His prolific later career in Europe and the affiliation with Greece through his second wife, combined with a common pronunciation of his surname as "Da-SAN" in Europe, as opposed to "DASS-in" in the United States leads to a common misconception that he was a European director.
Jules Dassin was married twice:
He was considered a major Philhellene to the point of Greek officials describing him as a "first generation Greek." Along with his second wife Melina Mercouri, he opposed the Greek military junta. A major supporter of the return of the Elgin Marbles to Athens, for which he established the Melina Mercouri Institution in her memory, he missed the opening ceremony of the New Acropolis Museum by only a few months owing to his death at the age of 96. He died from complications from a case of flu; he is 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."
For his 1955 film Rififi, Dassin earned the Best Director award at the Cannes Film Festival. His 1960 film Never on Sunday earned the music Academy Award (Manos Hadjidakis (Greek: Τα παιδιά του Πειραιά), Ta Paidia tou Peiraia), and the Cannes Film Festival best actress award (Melina Mercouri). In 1982, he was a member of the jury at the 34th Berlin International Film Festival.
The Academy Film Archive preserved Jules Dassin's film Night and the City, including the British and pre-release versions.
|1941||The Tell-Tale Heart||Yes|
|The Affairs of Martha||Yes|
|Reunion in France||Yes|
|1944||The Canterville Ghost||Yes|
|1946||Two Smart People||Yes|
|A Letter for Evie||Yes|
|1948||The Naked City||Yes|
|1950||Night and the City||Yes|
|1955||Rififi||Yes||Yes||Yes||César le Milanais|
|1957||He Who Must Die||Yes||Yes|
|1960||Never on Sunday||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Homer Thrace|
|1966||10:30 P.M. Summer||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|1970||Promise at Dawn||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Ivan Mozzhukhin|
|1978||A Dream of Passion||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|1980||Circle of Two||Yes|
A Dream of Passion (Greek: Κραυγή Γυναικών, translit. Kravgi gynaikon) 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.A Letter for Evie
A Letter for Evie is a 1946 American comedy film directed by Jules Dassin.Brute Force (1947 film)
Brute Force is a 1947 American crime film noir directed by Jules Dassin, from a screenplay by Richard Brooks with cinematography by William H. Daniels. It stars Burt Lancaster, Hume Cronyn and Charles Bickford.This was among several noir films made by Dassin during the postwar period. The others were Thieves' Highway, Night and the City and The Naked City.Hamilchama al hashalom
Hamilchama al hashalom is a 1968 film directed by Jules Dassin. A version in French was released under the title Comme un éclair, and the English language release was titled Survival 1967.He Who Must Die
He Who Must Die (French: Celui qui doit mourir, Italian: Colui che deve morire) is a 1957 French film directed by Jules Dassin. It is based on the novel Christ Recrucified (also published as The Greek Passion) by Nikos Kazantzakis. It was entered into the 1957 Cannes Film Festival.Nazi Agent
Nazi Agent is a 1942 American spy film directed by Jules Dassin, in his first feature-length film for MGM. It stars Conrad Veidt playing identical twins, one loyal to the United States (U.S.), the other a dedicated German Nazi.Never on Sunday
Never on Sunday (Greek: Ποτέ την Κυριακή, Pote tin Kyriaki) is a 1960 Greek black-and-white romantic comedy film.
The film tells the story of Ilya, a self-employed, free-spirited prostitute who lives in the port of Piraeus in Greece, and Homer, an American tourist from Middletown, Connecticut - a classical scholar enamored of all things Greek. Homer feels Ilya's life style typifies the degradation of Greek classical culture, and attempts to steer her onto the path of morality, while, at the same time, Ilya attempts to loosen Homer up. It constitutes a variation of the Pygmalion plus "hooker with a heart of gold" story.The film stars Melina Mercouri and Jules Dassin, and it gently submerges the viewer into Greek culture, including dance, music, and language (through the use of subtitles). The theme song and the bouzouki theme of the movie became hits of the 1960s. The movie won the Academy Award for Best Original Song (Manos Hadjidakis for "Never on Sunday"). It was nominated for the Academy Awards for, respectively, Best Actress in a Leading Role (Melina Mercouri), Best Costume Design, Black-and-White, Best Director (Jules Dassin), and Best Writing, Story and Screenplay as Written Directly for the Screen (Dassin). Mercouri won the award for Best Actress at the 1960 Cannes Film Festival.Phaedra (film)
Phaedra (Greek: Φαίδρα) is a 1962 American drama film directed by Jules Dassin as a vehicle for his partner (and future wife) Melina Mercouri, after her worldwide hit Never on Sunday.
The film was the fourth collaboration between Dassin and Mercouri, who took the title role. Greek writer Margarita Lymberaki adapted Euripides' Hippolytus into a melodrama concerning the rich society of ship owners and their families, but still containing some of the tragic elements of the ancient drama. The film is set in Paris, London, and the Greek island of Hydra.Promise at Dawn
Promise at Dawn (French: La Promesse de l'aube) is a 1970 American drama film directed by Jules Dassin. It is based on the 1960 novel Promise at Dawn (French: La Promesse de l'aube) by Romain Gary.Reunion in France
Reunion in France is a 1942 American war film distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer starring Joan Crawford, John Wayne, and Philip Dorn in a story about a woman in occupied France who, learning her well-heeled lover has German connections, aids a downed American flyer. Ava Gardner appears in a small uncredited role as a Parisian shopgirl. The film was directed by Jules Dassin.The Affairs of Martha
The Affairs of Martha is a 1942 American romantic comedy film directed by Jules Dassin and written by Isobel Lennart based on her story. It stars Marsha Hunt and Richard Carlson. It is also known as Once Upon a Thursday.The Law (1959 film)
The Law (Italian: La legge, French: La Loi and originally released in America as Where the Hot Wind Blows) is a 1959 French-Italian film directed by Jules Dassin.The Rehearsal (1974 film)
The Rehearsal (Gr. I Dokimi) is a 1974 film produced by Jules Dassin that is a cinematographic indictment of the Greek military junta of 1967–1974.The Tell-Tale Heart (1941 film)
The Tell-Tale Heart is a 1941 American drama film, 20 minutes long, directed by Jules Dassin. The screenplay by Doane R. Hoag is based on the 1843 short story of the same name by Edgar Allan Poe.
The film marked Dassin's directorial debut after working as an assistant to Alfred Hitchcock and Garson Kanin. It is typical of the short film adaptations of literary classics studios produced to precede the feature film during the 1930s and 1940s.Thieves' Highway
Thieves' Highway is a 1949 film noir directed by Jules Dassin. The screenplay was written by A. I. Bezzerides, based on his novel Thieves' Market. The film was released on DVD as part of the Criterion Collection in 2005.Topkapi (film)
Topkapi (1964) is a Technicolor heist film made by Filmways Pictures and distributed by United Artists.It was produced and directed by the emigre American film director Jules Dassin. The film is based on Eric Ambler's novel The Light of Day (1962), adapted as a screenplay by Monja Danischewsky.The film stars Melina Mercouri, Maximilian Schell, Peter Ustinov, Robert Morley, Gilles Ségal and Akim Tamiroff. The music score was by Manos Hadjidakis, the cinematography by Henri Alekan and the costume design by Theoni V. Aldredge.Two Smart People
Two Smart People is a 1946 American drama film directed by Jules Dassin and starring Lucille Ball and John Hodiak, Lloyd Nolan and Hugo Haas.Young Ideas
Young Ideas is a 1943 American romantic comedy film directed by Jules Dassin and starring Susan Peters, Herbert Marshall and Mary Astor.
Films directed by Jules Dassin