Biography of Jules Dassin (1911-2008)

Director of American cinema, born on December 18, 1911 in Middletown (Connecticut) and died on March 31, 2008.


Son of Russian emigrants, Julius Dassin went to the Institute in the Bronx, but decided to study dramatic art in Europe. When he/she returned to the United States he/she debuted as an actor in New York Yiddish Theater. It was the year 1936, and from then until 1940, was devoted to writing scripts for radio. He/She then moved to Hollywood, where they awaited him a contract with the RKO, to work as Assistant Director. Its next stage would spend it in the Metro Goldwyn Mayer directing short films. The latter was precisely one of the most striking, was entitled The Tell-Tale Heart (1942), and was based on the story by Edgar Allan Poe of the same title. During the Decade of the 1940 diversified genres and themes in titles such as Nazi Agent (1942), in which Conrad Veidt played two politically opposed twins, Young Ideas (1943), a comedy starring Mary Astor and Ava Gardner, or Brute Force, (brute force), (1947), film noir, which featured Burt Lancaster and Ivonne de Carlo in the cast.

But, precisely at the end of this decade, when his titles were beginning to be purged and their style to take shape, was forced into exile in Europe: in their statements before the McCarthy Commission - in full "witch hunt" - Edward Dmytryk had identified you as a Communist. England, France and Italy you were welcoming on to produce a night on the town (1950), based on the novel by Gerald Kersh, who penetrated with ease by the underworld, Rififi (1955), chasing the dream of the perfect crime, which made him the prize for best director at the Festival of Cannes, which must die to Dassin (1957), a biblical fable that transferred to the Greece of the 1920s a representation of the passion that is made too real, or law (1958), which also pulled out of the personality changes that occur when someone plays a particular role.

Following his European tour in 1960 Dassin went to Greece where he/she shot two movies: never on Sunday (1960) and Phaedra (1962), - whose costume design was nominated for the Oscar - both starring Merlina Mercouri, which from now will participate in several titles more Dassin, and which in 1966 became his wife. In 1964 Dassin made one of his more commercial titles, Topkapi, a comedy which again referred to one of the favorite of the director: planning a robbery, and that Peter Ustinov the Oscar won best supporting actor. His last films opted for drama and it was not bad. Promise at dawn (1970) earned him to Melina Mercouri a nomination for the Golden Globes and cries of passion (1978) was nominated for the same award as best foreign film. His last film was circle of two (1980), one of the few appearances of Tatum O'Neal, daughter of actor Ryan O´Neal, on the screen.

Jules Dassin was married to Beatrice Launer in 1933 and he/she divorced her in 1962. Had three children, Richelle, Julie, which followed an acting career, and Joseph, who was a popular French singer, who died in 1980. In 1966 he/she married the Greek actress Melina Mercouri. Dassin administered the Melina Mercouri Foundation towards the end of his life, trying to recover the sculptural marble group known as Elgin, held by the British Museum for 200 years.

He died on March 31, 2008 in Athens, Greece, at the age of 96.


Cortometraje:1940: Arthur Rubinstein; Andrés Segovia; Pablo Casals; Marian Anderson; Jascha Heifitz; Gregor Piatigorsky.1941: Jan Percee; The million dollar trio; The tell - tale heart.

Documental:1967: Survival!

Largometraje:1941: Nazi agent. 1942: The Affairs of Martha; Meeting in France. 1943: Young Ideas. 1944: The Canterville Ghost. 1945: A letter for Evie. 1946: Two Smart People. 1947: Brute Force. 1948: The naked city. 1949: Market of thieves. 1950: Night on the town. 1954: Rififi (and screenwriter and actor). 1957: he/she who must die (and screenplay). 1958: law (and screenplay). 1960: never on Sunday (and writer, actor and producer). 1962: Fedra (and screenwriter and actor). 1964: Topkapi (and producer). 1965: 10:30 p.m. Summer (and screenwriter and producer). 1968: Up Tight (tb. screenwriter and producer). 1970: promise at dawn (and screenwriter and actor).1974: The Rehearsal. 1978: Cries of passion (and screenplay). 1980: circle of two.


RENTERO, J. C., et al.: dictionary of Directors, Madrid: Ediciones JC, 1992.

PASSEK, j. L., et al.: dictionary of cinema, Librairie Larousse, 1986. Spanish version of CASCANTE, M. URABAYEN, Rialp, 1991.