Critic Reviews



Based on 17 critic reviews provided by
Washington Post
Directed by Irwin Winkler, the movie's constantly full of big, all-engrossing moments. The performances -- minor and major -- are all superb, from Warden's hard-as-nails boxer to Lange's serene Helen. As De Niro's secret and devoted partner, with business-building dreams of her own, she exudes a graceful, happy-hour serenity.
A film that gets in your face and stays there, it ultimately subverts all that effort with its improbably upbeat conclusion. Still, the performances are technically knockouts, the kind that leave your underbelly churning.
Lively performances, pungent New York City atmosphere and an abundance of dramatic incident keep this story of an irrepressible lowlife hustler ripping along.
Boston Globe
It's got all the energy and idiomatic rightness one could hope for, but, dramatically speaking, it lacks a knockout punch. The violent ending in an alley is flat. One reason may be that the boxing-card scam seems musty and dated. Winkler's got the right friends on camera, but you're never as interested in the story as you are in the characters inhabiting its sunless atmosphere. Night and the City is a qualified success. [23 Oct 1992, p.27]
Chicago Tribune
Winkler's New York is a crowded, bustling place, with construction work on practically ever street corner, yet it has none of the lurid, hothouse atmosphere of a Martin Scorsese film. The cinematography, by the invaluable Tak Fujimoto, is airy and cool, graced by floating camera movements that follow the characters without dogging or confining them. [23 Oct 1992, p.ACN]
As directed by Irwin Winkler, Night and the City is colorfully acted and refreshingly free of all the moody cliches such a story might be expected to thrive on. But it is also saddled with overly busy direction that sometimes interferes with the dialogue, making Mr. Price's long, perversely elegant conversational riffs hard to hear.
Night and the City hits a false note at the finish. Forgive that and relish the movie's snappy, low-life high spirits. [19 Oct 1992, p.67]
For all its promising elements, Night and the City confronts us, yet again, with one of the most dismaying paradoxes in contemporary movies: that the actor who once seemed the heir to Brando, Clift, and, yes, Widmark — the actor who once got so far inside his roles that he just about detonated the screen — now plays characters who don’t seem to have any inner life at all.
While not always successful or even unusual, Night and the City is a tart Manhattan cocktail worth savoring until the cup runs dry.
The Jessica Lange character is wrong because she isn't selfish enough. In the original, the character was a tough dame who had married the fat spider for money, and was looking out only for herself. Here the character's motivations are marred by soft bourgeois values like affection and career dreams. The original film had a good girl and a bad girl; the Lange character wants to be both.

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