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Robert DeNiro and Jessica Lange are the most impossible couple. He's a failed lawyer. She's a common waitress. Together they get in a downward spiral, as they can't seem to deal with their problems. The lawyer just failed winning a case in court against a famous boxing organizer and he wants revenge by catching the organizer on his own territory: boxing. Although he knows nothing about boxing, with his fine talk he finds the help of a couple of people like the brother of his new enemy. But the relationship with his waitress doesn't make things double as hard. Written by
Vincent Pastore: In the first scene in the boxing gym you can spot him more than once in the background behind Robert De Niro. He is in street clothes with a big cigar in his mouth "sparring" with a boxer. See more »
In his career Robert DeNiro has done four remakes of classic films of which Night And The City is one of them. The other three are We're No Angels, Cape Fear, and Frankenstein. In redoing parts made immortal by Humphrey Bogart, Robert Mitchum, Boris Karloff, and in this case Richard Widmark, DeNiro has wisely chosen not to imitate any of these people, instead whatever you think of the final product, he's certainly put out his own interpretation on these roles.
From the shadow world of the London underworld scene where American expatriate Richard Widmark operated to the streets of New York in the Nineties, the plot of Night And The City has essentially remained the same except, and this is critical for the ending. DeNiro must have loved the fact that his Tribeca Productions got to film in and around New York, especially in Tribeca.
Widmark is a small time hood, DeNiro is a cheap shyster lawyer, the kind that lawyer jokes are made about. He hears them and he's oblivious to them. What he's not oblivious to is the success he sees around him. It's personified by Cliff Gorman who runs a successful bar where DeNiro tells his war stories. It's also even more personified by Alan King who is a boxing promoter with some underworld connections. He's risen to the top in a very tough racket.
DeNiro tries to enter King's world and buys King's reluctant acceptance with using King's older brother Jack Warden who is a retired fighter living in an old age home. If you remember what happens in the original Night And The City, you pretty much know what is going to happen here and for the most part it does.
The legal profession doesn't necessarily attract guys like DeNiro, he's no Louis Brandeis, he's not about to publish articles in Harvard Law Review. But with him lying and conning is second nature, he does it like he breathes. Even Jessica Lange who is Gorman's wife and who DeNiro is carrying on with, he lies to her and worse because he needs money. He'd do all this if he wasn't a lawyer.
The cast is an incredibly select and good one of New Yorkers themselves who can play these parts like second nature. Even Jessica Lange who is a native of Minnesota is New York enough for her part. One role I have to call attention to is that of Margo Winkler. She has one scene as a judge with lawyer DeNiro whom obviously she's dealt with before. She throws him and his put up accident case out of court in a really terrific way.
The film would rate a lot higher with me had the original ending from Jules Dassin's classic version been kept. It wasn't and it really cheapens the impact of the film. Other than that this version of Night And The City is a good film with a great cast of players to perform it.
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