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The Law


Image courtesy of Oscilloscope Pictures
The Law
Jules Dassin, 1959
Fri, Aug 20, 2010 7 PM
Sat, Aug 21, 2010 7 PM
International luminaries Gina Lollobrigida, Marcello Mastroianni, and Yves Montand star in this fascinating, and relatively unknown, Italian feature from Jules Dassin, a victim of the Hollywood blacklist whose work thrived in Europe.

Director Jules Dassin had a well established Hollywood career with films such as the noir classic The Naked City to his credit before the witch-hunters of the House Un-American Activities Committee named him a Communist and called him to testify in 1951. Instead of testifying, Dassin moved to Europe, and (as J. Hoberman wrote in his 2009 New York Times obituary) "reinvented himself as an art-house director," earning praise and fans with films such as Rififi (1955), a French heist caper.

The Law, which was re-released on its 50th anniversary in 2009, centers on a tavern in a small Italian fishing village where men gather nightly for a game called "the law." The men, all under the thumb of the local Don (played by Pierre Brasseur), draw lots with the winner getting to boss and humiliate the others. Illicit relationships swirl around the tavern with town beauty and smalltime crook Gina Lollobrigida, the Don's housekeeper, at the center of them all. Montand is among those who pursue her, while her own affections belong of Mastroianni. Also in the cast is Melina Mercouri, the Greek actress whom Dassin later married, after he directed and costarred with her in Never on Sunday (1960). In French with English subtitles. (126 mins., 35mm)

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The Law trailer
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