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Harry Fabian is a London hustler with ambitious plans that never work out. One day, when he encounters the most famous Greco-Roman wrestler in the world, Gregorius, at a London wrestling arena run by his son Kristo, he dreams up a scheme that he thinks will finally be his ticket to financial independence. As Fabian attempts to con everyone around him to get his scheme to work, he of course only ends up conning himself. This is an 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. Written by
Alan Katz <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The rise and fall of small-time hustler Harry Fabain is chronicled in this noir thriller by Director Jules Dassin.
This was Dassin's American swansong, completed just before being named by fellow director Ed Dmytryk before HUAK as a "communist," thus ending Dassin's American career.
He brought to "Night and the City" all the technique he acquired over years of quality movie making. Although born in Connecticut and raised and trained in the US, Dassin's work always had the look and feel of his European counterpart, Carol Reed.
The script here is a decent one with surprise turns, avoiding predictability. Franz Waxman's high pitched score adds excitement to the proceedings and Gene Tierney is a creditable second lead.
Yet it's Richard Widmark on whose shoulders the success of this film ultimately rests. It's not an easy role, as Fabian's character runs the gamut of emotional range as he struggles to wheel and deal his petty schemes amongst assorted lowlife types.
Widmark proves he's well up to the challenge, creating a strong portrait of a small time hood striving for positive payoffs through his callous cleverness.
It's a reminder of how talented and resourceful this actor is, and how he and Dassin meshed to create a film of impact.
Dassin, of course, went on to France after this to engage in a fabulous European period, while Widmark struggled to find scripts worthy of his formidable talents, which turned out to be few and far between.
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