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Dassin, Jules

DASSIN, JULES

DASSIN, JULES (1911– ), U.S. film director. Born in Middle-town, Connecticut, Dassin attended high school in the Bronx, New York, and drama school in Europe. He started his career as an actor in the Yiddish Theatre in New York at age 25. In Hollywood, he worked his way up to a directorial position in mgm's short subjects unit, where he handled an inspired 20-minute adaptation of Edgar Alan Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart (1941). He then graduated to directing feature films for mgm, such as Nazi Agent (1942), Reunion in France (1942), and The Canterville Ghost (1944). He wrote radio plays, and directed film noir gangster movies such as Brute Force (1947) and The Naked City (1948) for Universal Studios. During the McCarthy period in the 1950s, Dassin started making films abroad. The last film he directed for a major American studio was 20th Century Fox's Night and the City (1950), which was shot in London. He moved to France, where he co-authored, directed, and acted in Rififi (1954), which is regarded as one of the most influential crime caper movies. During this period he directed the films He Who Must Die (1957), La Loi (1959), both of which he wrote, and the comedy thriller Topkapi (1964), which he also produced. Living in Greece, he became famous with the film Never on Sunday (1960), a humorous study of Greek seaport life, which he wrote and directed. In it, he played opposite Melina Mercouri, whom he later married. In 1967 he directed a documentary entitled Survival (screenplay by Irwin *Shaw) on the Six-Day Israel-Arab War. Dassin also wrote, produced, and directed Phaedra (1962), 10:30 p.m. Summer (1966), Up Tight (1968), and Promise at Dawn (1970). He wrote and directed A Dream of Passion (1978) and directed The Rehearsal (1974) and Circle of Two (1980). As an actor, he appeared in Phaedra, Promise at Dawn, and The Rehearsal.

Although he was permitted back into the U.S. studio system in the mid-1960s, Dassin chose to remain in Europe. His son, joe dassin (1938–1980), was one of France's most popular singers, with hits such as "L'eté indien" and "Aux Champs-Elysées."

add. bibliography:

M. Mercouri, I Was Born Greek (1971).

[Linda Gutstein /

Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)]

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