Posted by: philosopherouge | October 21, 2007

Night and the City (Dassin, 1950)

 

Night and the City

Night and the City reminds me of Cronenberg’s recent Eastern Promises, in it’s violent immediacy and the “I can’t look away” quality that permeates every scene. It’s not just violent, but makes me cringe whenever a punch is pulled. Violence isn’t glorified, and neither is the life on the edge. Richard Widmark stars as Harry Fabian, a man of great ideas but who has no money, bad luck and a fleeting attention span. When one of the al time greatest wrestlers drops down, as if from heaven, into his lap he quickly decides to become a wrestling promoter and quickly and efficiently begins to con everyone around him so his dream will finally come true. Unfortunately for Harry, the fates are against him and natural charm and cleverness are not enough to bring him to the top. As I have already mentioned, the film brings the viewer straight into the action, delivering some of the most hard hitting scenes ever commited to celluloid. The wrestling match between The Strangler and Gregorius the Great will have you both on your toes and cringing in pain. Unlike most noirs, the film is set in London, and the dark, ancient and twisted streets add to the high contrast lighting and tense atmosphere. This film is a more than pleasent surprise, and I recommend it to all fans of Dassin or noir. Credit should also go to Richard Widmark as this is quite possibly his greatest performance. Truly unforgetteable.

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Responses

  1. Excellent. You wrote something. But next time, don’t make it under gun-point.

    I believe Jules Dassin was on the run from being blacklisted, and turned out Night and the City quickly (and in London) before he would be barred from Hollywood filmmaking all together.

    I like what you say about violence. That wrestling scene was long and sweaty and fleshy. And, of course, the ending was extremely blunt. Loved it.

    Richard Widmark is a dude. I think my favorite performance from him is Kiss of Death. Have you seen it?
    [Whoa, Widmark’s still alive? He is Unbreakable!]

    OK, you really need to be more on-top of your blog posts. Eh?

  2. P.S. Apparently Dassin is still around, too. Turns 96 this year. Both these guys rock. *praise*

  3. Wow, I had no idea Widmark and Dassin are alive… that’s insane. They are iron men!

    I haven’t seen Kiss of Death, I keep on going for something else because Victor Mature annoys me to no bounds. I’ll give it a chance though. I have another Widmark lined up for this week though, The Street with no Name. I hope it’s good. There is also No Way Out I’ve been meaning to pick up for sometime… have you seen it?

    I promise! More blogging! Maybe I’ll write something up today, I have lots of free time.

  4. “I promise! More blogging! Maybe I’ll write something up today, I have lots of free time.”

    :tsk:
    Empty promises, Justine. You should better than to make those.

  5. It’s weird, everytime you make a post I happen to just sign in to check my blog. We must have a mental connection.

    I know! I suck to the max 😦

  6. “We must have a mental connection.”
    Or maybe we’re the same person. If that’s the case, I must ask yourself why you’re so hard on myself.

    You should really see a doctor.

  7. You mean WE should see a doctor.

  8. I love this movie! Some of the best noir photography ever committed to celluloid! And great performances, have you seen RiFiFi? Also great!

  9. I haven’t seen Rififi, as a matter of fact it’s my only Dassin to date. I’ll definetely see it.

  10. Mango : Yes Dassin was on the verge of being blacklisted and Darryl F. Zanuck sent him to London to avoid a subpoena. Night and the City, like quite a few films of that period, is based on the notion of betrayal. To get my meaning, see, if you have the chance, the last John Garfield film noir directed by John Berry : “He Ran All the Way” which predates Wyler’s “Desperate Hours”.
    The Criterion edition of “Night and the City” has a interesting comparison between the american and the english editing of the film.


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