- Actors: Richard Widmark, Gene Tierney, Googie Withers, Hugh Marlowe, Francis L. Sullivan
- Directors: Jules Dassin
- Writers: Austin Dempster, Gerald Kersh, Jo Eisinger, William E. Watts
- Format: Black & White, Closed-captioned, DVD-Video, Full Screen, Special Edition, Subtitled, NTSC
- Language: English
- Subtitles: English
- Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Number of discs: 1
- MPAA Rating:
- Studio: Criterion
- Release Date: Feb. 8 2005
- Run Time: 96 minutes
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- ASIN: B0006Z2NE0
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #48,451 in Movies & TV Shows (See Top 100 in Movies & TV Shows)
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Night & the City (The Criterion Collection)
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Two-bit hustler Harry Fabian (Richard Widmark) aches for a life of ease and plenty. Trailed by an inglorious history of go-nowhere schemes, he stumbles upon a chance of a lifetime in the form of legendary wrestler Gregorius the Great (Stanislaus Zbyszko). But there is no easy money in this underworld of shifting alliances, bottomless graft, and pummeled fleshand soon Fabian learns the horrible price of his ambition. Luminously shot in the streets of London, Jules Dassins Night and the City is film noir of the first order and one of the directors crowning achievements.
Richard Widmark never had better exercise for his Cagney-like bouncing-ball energy than Night and the City, a classic film noir about a hustler's meteoric flame-out. Although acknowledged as one of the great noir pictures, it's actually set and shot in London, which gives an exotic, displaced novelty to the usual noir universe. Widmark's performance as Harry Fabian is a jibbering, wheedling, giggling tour de force, as Harry schemes his way to setting up a wrestling match and finally establishing himself as a "somebody." Instead, he manages to irritate the underworld heavies (memorably, Herbert Lom and Francis L. Sullivan) whose fingers are already deeply into the criminal pie. Gene Tierney and Googie Withers are the women--one good, one bad--who witness Harry's descent. This was director Jules Dassin's final project for a Hollywood studio before the blacklist forced him out, and he packs the film with tortured camera angles and spidery noir shadows; the movie's a real visual clambake. Night and the City was remade, tiredly, with Robert De Niro in 1992. Bonus: See how strongly this movie has influenced Martin Scorsese. --Robert HortonSee all Product description
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The cinematography in this film is classic film noir. The film exposes a depressing beauty of the seedy underbelly of London in glorious black and white. Dassin's direction is creative and subtle, as he unravels at a careful pace the angst, frustration, and inevitable descent of the Widmark character, soaking up and igniting the atmospheric quality of the film that makes it such a great film noir.
This film is totally dominated by Richard Widmark. His performance is absolutely unforgettable. The rest of the cast are competent, but are overshadowed by Widmark and his performance. However, special kudos should go to the performance of Stanislaus Zbyszko, who portrays a retired wrestler making a comeback as a decent and sensitive individual who becomes a loyal friend to the Widmark character.
This is probably Dassin's best film in my opinion. A film that at times may be depressing and uncomfortable to watch, but at the same time easily recognizable as one of the best film noirs ever made.
Widmark at his best in this interesting tale of blind ambition, self-deception, broken dreams, and how a man who always thinks he's ahead of the game ends up tripping himself very badly - dark brooding noir.
Under the production staff of:
Jules Dassin [Director]
Jo Eisinger [Screenwriter]
Gerald Kersh [Novel]
Samuel G. Engel [Producer]
Benjamin Frankel [Original Film Score - British version]
Franz Waxman [Original Film Score - American version]
Max Greene [Cinematographer]
Nick De Maggio [Film Editor]
Sidney Stone [Film Editor]
1. Jules Dassin [Director]
Date of Birth: 18 December 1911 - Middletown, Connecticut
Date of Death: 31 March 2008 - Athens, Greece
2. Richard Widmark
Date of Birth: 26 December 1914 - Sunrise Township, Minnesota
Date of Death: 24 March 2008 - Roxbury, Connecticut
3. Gene Tierney
Date of Birth: 19 November 1920 - Brooklyn, New York
Date of Death: 6 November 1991 - Houston, Texas
the cast includes:
Richard Widmark ... [Harry Fabian]
Gene Tierney ... [Mary Bristol]
Googie Withers ... [Helen Nosseross]
Hugh Marlowe ... [Adam Dunn]
Francis L. Sullivan ... [Philip Nosseross]
Herbert Lom ... [Kristo]
Stanislaus Zbyszko ... [Gregorius]
Mike Mazurki ... T[he Strangler]
Charles Farrell ... [Mickey Beer]
Ada Reeve ... [Molly the Flower Lady]
SPECIAL FEATURES [BONUS]:
1. New, restored high-definition digital transfer
2. Audio commentary by film scholar Glenn Erickson
3. New video interview with director Jules Dassin
4. Excerpts from a 1972 French interview with Dassin
5. A comparison by Christopher Husted of the Bernard Hermann estate of the two scores recorded for the British and American releases of the film
6. Original theatrical trailer
7. English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired
8. Plus: a new essay by film critic Paul Arthur
Mr. Jim's Ratings:
Quality of Picture & Sound: 5 Stars
Performance: 5 Stars
Story & Screenplay: 5 Stars
Overall: 5 Stars [Original Music, Cinematography & Film Editing]
Total Time: 96 min on DVD ~ Criterion ~ (02/01/2005)
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
On first viewing I could not help but think this is the kind of script Charles Dickens would turn in if he were working as a B movie writer for a studio in the 1950's. The characters are super interesting and the London underworld has an Oliver Twist feel to it. This is a great Noir and I recommend it highly.
The film begins and ends with restless, unscrupulous Harry Fabian; "An artist without an art" played by Richard Widmark, dodging pursuers, fleeing like a rat though a maze of dark streets. Quick-witted Harry desperately wants to realize his grandiose scheme of becoming a big-time wrestling promoter. Always on the run, carrying a sack of lies and deception possibly bestowed by the Olympian Hermes himself, he scurries through the movie along winding, treacherous streets and alleyways, while hastily creating the masterpiece of a lifetime. But when all else fails, he too is capable of making the supreme sacrifice to help his girlfriend Mary by executing the final con of his career.
Underworld figures in Night and the City are cold and calculating, yet they are also real people: hard, but vulnerable. Absent are the emotionless psychopaths of modern film, possessing an inexhaustible supply of ammunition loaded by tireless fiends with superhuman ability to snuff out life without remorse. We see the major characters in Night and the City, Harry Fabian, Kristo, Helen and Philip Nosseross, as frail human beings in an anything-goes wrestling match with the vicissitudes of life, "scheming their way through unpredictable circumstances." (DVD commentary) The struggle against fate always lays them open to defeat, because of a tragic flaw, inner weakness, or simply being too smart or crooked for their own good. Motivated by greed and ambition with a slosh of conceit, they believe life is unfair, and owes them a big score. Capable of genuine affection, they love "not wisely, but too well."
Gene Tierney's role as Mary Bristol, Fabian's all-forgiving girlfriend, is disappointingly small for such a great talent; she exists only on the periphery. Controversy surrounds her singing `debut' in one club scene. It was dubbed-in for the British version, but there is a veil of uncertainty surrounding the American version. A sample of her singing voice can be heard in the jail scene in "That Wonderful Urge" 1948. Let the viewer decide. Mary serves as the unwilling patron of Fabian's artifice; a significant source of ready cash, which he continuously purloins; and subject of the one good deed he attempts, presenting himself as an offering. Dassin's Fabian is a scapegoat for the sins of the world: greed, ambition, conceit. Cornered by Kristo's men, he expresses remorse to an old woman in a beautifully, composed shot strikingly reminiscent of Michelangelo's "Pieta".
The highlight of the movie is a King Kong vs. Godzilla style clash between two titan wrestlers fighting to prove the superiority of their style and values. This after-hours, out of control, grudge match, between Gregorius, master of the Greco-Roman style, and The Strangler, champion of the faked spectacle we see today, is arguably one on the best fight scenes ever filmed. The commentary for Night and the City is excellent providing a rich background of the script, actors careers, and the life and times of Jules Dassin.
Nighttime shots of London's famous landmarks such as Big Ben, the Thames, and the neon signs of Piccadilly Square take place while an ominous voice reminds the audience of the night and any night. This opening offers a powerful impression on the audience, as it presents a symbolic visual together with the narration of the dangers that lurk the streets during the dark hours. The visuals are accompanied by restrained tunes, which bring a feeling of a bad omen. Suddenly, the creepy tune is interrupted by an alarming fast-paced tune, as Henry Fabian is trying to escape someone who is following him. The chase brings Henry to his girlfriend's place where he seeks shelter from the following man. The brief meeting between Henry and his girlfriend Mary (Gene Tierney) displays the true nature behind Henry's character, which in essence, is an insecure flighty opportunist without morals or backbone. Mary, who has known him for a long time knows this, but is helpless due to her strong affections to Henry.
Henry's persona is built on only one thing - money. The job he has is to get people to give him, or more precise his boss, Phil (Francis L. Sullivan), money to the private Silver Fox Club. The dreams Henry has surround money, and it appears to the audience that only money can make him happy. Skillfully Henry cons men to visit the private club, which only exists to exploit the weakness of lonesome men. These visiting men have to pay excessive amounts of money to fill their insecurities with phony affection, as the women say nice things and ask the men to buy them chocolates and cheap champagne. Henry's existence is as hollow as this establishment for which he works, but he is completely unaware of his emotional neglect or lack of a real skill as his eyes are set on money. Mary's neighbor, Adam (Hugh Marlowe), points out the most important aspect of Henry by stating "Henry is an artist without an art."
When Henry visits a wrestling match to recruit more visitors to the club he overhears the infamous wrestler Gregorius the Great (Stanislaus Zbyszko) loudly discredit the wrestling match. Gregorius finds the wrestling match to be a circus, as he finds it offensive in regards to the true nature of Greco-roman wrestling. His son Kristo (Herbert Lom) responds to the accusations that wrestling must change with the times. However, Gregorius is offended and walks off. Henry discovers that he sits on a golden egg, as he rushes off to convince Gregorius that Greco-roman wrestling can still conquer the audience and that it is far superior. During this scene it is evident that Henry does not care about wrestling, as he seeks the quick way to riches for himself without consideration for others.
Quickly Henry seeks people with capital to invest in his idea, as he is about to erect his biggest sand castle ever. Initially people laugh at him, however, it only infuriates him. This anger provides an internal motivation for him to seek investors, as Phil has promised to match his assets that are put into the financial venture. On Henry's quest for an investor he finds that no one wants to have anything to do with him, or his idea, until he meets Helen (Googie Withers) Phil's wife. Helen is willing to put up the money for a favor to which Henry agrees. With the starting capital Henry seems to be in heaven, as he can now begin rake in the money. Kristo sets stops to Henry's attempts to start the Greco-roman wrestling organization in a lawful way, but when Kristo finds out that he has turned his father against him it begins to turn very ugly.
Night and the City is a magnificent story depicted through skillful cinematography, which is enhanced through how each scene is framed. In addition, the mise-en-scene helps develop the strong undercurrents in the film, as feelings such as envy, greed, love, and deceit are depicted. The cast performs very well and they enhance the feelings through their body language and how they look upon one another--not to mention, the script, which is brilliant. However, it is the final product, the story, which generates a truly brilliant cinematic experience, which will leave the audience with thoughts to reflect on while having experienced an intriguing tale of a man's misled fate.