Tuesday, April 1, 2008

News' obit slights Dassin

Jules Dassin was, quite simply, one of the greatest American filmmakers of the post World War II era. He was a master of film noir, my personal favorite style, as evidenced by such classics as "Brute Force," "The Naked City," "Night and the City" and "Rififi."

"Rififi," which Dassin made while living in France after he was blacklisted here in the United States, is, without question, one of the most influential films ever made. It inaugurated a sub-genre of the crime genre, the so-called "caper film." "Rififi" became the inspiration for everything from "Oceans Eleven" to the original television series of "Mission: Impossible." Dassin later essentially remade "Rififi" as the equally engrossing "Topkapi," which also featured his wife, Melina Mercouri.

Dassin died Monday in an Athens hospital at the age of 96. Which brings me to the obituary of Dassin in today's Dallas Morning News. Now I realize the News has little original story material any longer--the paper relies on wire copy for most of its news. Usually, however, the paper notes this fact before a wire story. There is nothing on the Dassin obit that indicates where it came from. But the shame of it is that its lead neglects Dassin's important contributions to film and dwells on who he was married to. Here is the lead:

"American director Jules Dassin, whose Greek wife, Melina Mercouri, starred in his hit movie 'Never on Sunday' and six more of his films, died late Monday at an Athens hospital, officials said. He was 96."

That is an embarrassment.

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