1. Rififi (1955)
The most referenced sequence in heist movie history comes in the second half of Rififi: a wordless robbery that’s impossible to watch without sweat beads forming. It’s the work of American director Jules Dassin, whose bitter experience of McCarthyite blacklisting made him perfect for this story of desperate characters backed into a corner. These men spout tough-guy dialogue (‘I liked you, Macaroni, but you know the rules’ should really get quoted a lot more regularly) and hold to a code that crumbles when their too-clever-by-half hit on a Parisian jewellers goes south. It’s magnifique.
The mark: Gems in a Parisian jewellery shop.