Filmmaker Jules Dassin – an American who lived in Europe for the past half-century – died yesterday in Greece. He was 96 years old.
Dassin had been a Communist in the 1930s, and was blacklisted by Hollywood in the 1950s.
He is best remembered for the influential heist films “Rififi” and “Topkapi,” the romantic comedy “Never On Sunday,” and dark dramas “The Naked City” and “Night and the City.”
But Dassin also directed and co-wrote a 1968 film about political tensions in the black American ghetto. It was called “Up Tight!” Ruby Dee co-wrote the script and played the female lead.
“Up Tight!” was never released on videocassette or DVD. I’ve never seen it. But with a cast including Roscoe Lee Browne, Raymond St. Jacques and Dick Anthony Williams, “Up Tight!” begs to be seen.
Dassin himself is quoted in today’s L.A. Times obituary calling that movie “a disaster.” But Ruby Dee has fonder memories of “Up Tight!” She wrote about it in her 1998 memoir with Ossie Davis, “With Ossie and Ruby: In This Life Together.”
I am streaming a 4½-minute clip from the audiobook (which is available at iTunes); Ms. Dee describes working with on the script under Jules Dassin’s guidance. Click here to listen.
If any of you have seen “Up Tight!,” please share what you think of it.