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>
There are 2 versions of the film: the British release and the International/American release. There are a few scenes added to the British version and the scores of the 2 films are entirely different See more »
Harry's hair changes between shots when he is caught by Mary going through her handbag. See more »
Night and the city. The night is tonight, tomorrow night... or any night. The city is London.
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Night and the City is directed by Jules Dassin and is adapted by Jo Eisinger from the novel written by Gerald Kersh. Starring are Richard Widmark, Gene Tierney, Googie Withers, Hebert Lom, Francis L. Sullivan, Mike Mazurki & Stanislaus Zbyszko. The score is composed by Franz Waxman and Max Greene is the cinematographer. It's shot on location in London, England.
Harry Fabian (Widmark) is a hopeless dreamer, a two-bit hustler who aspires to make it big and never want for money again. Over hearing retired wrestling superstar Gregorius (Zbyszko) bemoaning the fake wrestling bouts put on by his underworld son Kristo (Lom), Fabian hatches a plan to set up his own wrestling empire backed by Gregorius. Thus he be safe from retribution from Kristo and his heavies. That is as long as Fabian does right by Gregorius and doesn't abuse his trust. Things get complicated, tho, as Fabian needs money to back the venture, money he hasn't got. So systematically he drags into the equation his girlfriend Mary Bristol (Tierney), club owner Phil Nosseross (Sullivan) and Sullivan's wife, Helen (Withers). Pretty soon things start to spiral out of control.
Night and the City has been called many things, from baroque masterpiece to being a turgid pictorial grotesque! Polar opposite reactions that have now, over time, dovetailed into a majority agreement from film noir purists that it is indeed one special piece of film noir movie making. The film opens in quite an unassuming way as the title sequence brings views of leisurely London, then Dassin does a voice-over telling us that "The night is tonight, tomorrow night or any night. The city is London." We then cut to a man on the run, pursued by a person unknown. The man being chased is Harry Fabian, sharply attired in suit and hat, he has left pictorial London and is now running thru bomb afflicted London, thru murky alleyways. Until sanctuary comes at his girlfriend's tidy flat, the contrast between the two worlds of Harry Fabian neatly marrying American film noir with British kitchen sink-ism.
However, that sanctuary is a rare ray of hope in Dassin's movie, a cunning trick by the makers, for Night and the City is ultimately a dark and brooding picture, one that deals in corruption & paranoia, with a pervading sense of doom hanging heavy like a death warrant issued by some heavy underworld crime lord. The characters in this part of London are mainly blank personalities, cold and calculating, crooked and immoral. That Fabian is only a lesser light, on the lower rung of this seamy ladder, is irrelevant, because he aspires to become just the same, only richer. Duplicity and betrayal are things he's happy to jump in bed with, and we the audience are part of it as we view this story thru Fabian's hopeless and oblivious eyes.
Yet the movie, in spite of its uncompromising story, is by turns exciting & pacey, even breath taking, driven by one of the finest scores put down in film noir as Waxman prods and probes with pulse beats and deft ear clangers. With Greene's expressionistic and daring photography blending seamlessly with the mood crafted by director and composer alike. The cast are mostly strong, with Widmark, Zbyszko & Withers actually terrific, the latter involved in a superb wrestling sequence with Mazurki. At times heart pounding, at others wince inducing-if you find yourself holding your breath-then that's OK, it has that effect on many. Tierney was cast as a favour to Darryl Zanuck who was worried about Tierney's mental health at the time. She looks radiant and offers up an interesting counterpoint to all the darkness within the story. Dassin spoke very favourably of her work on the film, saying she was no trouble at all and a consummate professional.
As for Dassin himself? Well he was, thanks to the HUAC outcry, about to be out of work and on the run. He moved to Europe and never worked in America again, he returned from film making exile five years later where he would make the much revered Rififi in France. A truly excellent director, capable of pacing a film to precision and holding an audience in an atmospheric vice like grip. Night and the City is his masterpiece, and it is also one of film noir's greatest treasures. 10/10
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