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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oft neglected classic
NIGHT AND THE CITY is an often overlooked classic of British Film Noir which tells the story of the downfall of low life hustler Harry Fabian in a haunting performance by Richard Widmark, a screen actor who rarely was given material worthy of his considerable talents. This is a tragic story of a dreamer who fails and the damage he unwittingly does to the victims he takes...
Published on 27 Mar. 2009 by Emanon

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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "You don't know what you're getting into". "I know what I'm getting out of."
I had much the same feeling watching this as I did when watching Rififi (also by Jules Dassin; 1955) - a good film but no classic. Certainly the London location shooting, almost all carried out either at night or at dawn, is full of interest. It's revealing that the Fox-contracted American director Dassin had to field British complaints that his seamy London was a figment...
Published on 27 Aug. 2009 by Humpty Dumpty


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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oft neglected classic, 27 Mar. 2009
This review is from: Night And The City [1950] [DVD] (DVD)
NIGHT AND THE CITY is an often overlooked classic of British Film Noir which tells the story of the downfall of low life hustler Harry Fabian in a haunting performance by Richard Widmark, a screen actor who rarely was given material worthy of his considerable talents. This is a tragic story of a dreamer who fails and the damage he unwittingly does to the victims he takes down with him; a story of the cruelty of desperation; and a story of the evil men do. From the moment you see him, you know that things probably aren't going to turn out too well for Harry and the unraveling of his plans is painful to watch, and yet utterly compelling as well. You really can't take your eyes off the screen and the images in this film will haunt you long after the final fade to black.

It looks gorgeous too. The photography of a lost London is strangely beautiful, and the restoration of this BFI edition is stunning, considering that the material is nearly 60 years old. The extras include an informative commentary, a revealing interview with the Director Jules Dassin himself and a feature on the two different scores for the film which manages to include the alternative scenes in an interesting and novel way and which also help to explain some of the more obscure plot points lost in the main (American release) version of the feature presentation.

Harry also wears one of the loudest jackets put on film since Dallow's suit in Brighton Rock, and yet it all manages to be a slick and stylish slice of underworld life in 1950s London. This is a film that deserves to be better known. Highly recommended.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars London noir number one, 25 Nov. 2007
By 
J. C. Bray (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Night And The City [1950] [DVD] (DVD)
Sweaty hopes and fears all played out in a glistening black and white, bombsite London as a hyped up Widmark makes all the wrong choices. He's cashing in on trust and all that's true in favour of the main chance. He's so close he can taste it as he criss-crosses town from west end clip joints to east end grotesques.

Every frame of this film could be framed. Every tight little set piece confrontation of a scene painted in fathomless black and searing white.

Personally, I could do without the statutory American star playing the lead without any explanation of what he's doing in London town. Widmark's performance brings a kinetic jumping jack flash momentum to the film but his performance can appear overheated - a stranger in a strangely re-imagined London with all its knowing, beaten-down old world inhabitants and actors. Though then again - overall - somehow the injection of Hollywood fire, skill and energy into a typical English tale of spivs and seedy desperation, does work - creating a unique London Noir.

A couple of good features packaged in with the DVD include an interview with Director, Jules Dassin, and a docco about the difference in cut and soundtrack between the US and UK versions of the film. From which we learn that the actor playing the old wrestler was infact played by a real former world wrestling champion, Stanislaus Cyganiewicz, who had never acted before in his life. Must have been a hell of a man because he brings a memorable depth and dignity to the role. Equally memorable is Francis Sullivan as the urbane clip joint impressario. Fat man in a suit with all the angles covered except for the love he knows his hopeless for his wife who despises him in equal measure to her desire to use his money to strike out on her own in the soho demi-monde. Just another tough luck story and just another night in the city.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brutal, powerful and classic noir, 25 July 2007
By 
C. O. DeRiemer (San Antonio, Texas, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Night And The City [1950] [DVD] (DVD)
Harry Fabian (Richard Widmark) is a two-bit hustler in London. He has great dreams and great delusions. He manages to cheat and betray everyone he deals with. He has sleazy charm and the glad-handing confidence of a true loser. Nothing good is going to come of the things Harry involves himself in, and nothing does. After meeting an aging, famous wrestler, Gregorius (Stanislaus Zlysko), he hatches a scheme to start his own wrestling promotions and convinces himself that the mob that controls wrestling won't do a thing to stop him because his wrestler is the father of the mob boss, Kristo (Herbert Lom). The old man believes in the honor and purity of real Greco-Roman wrestling and Harry cons him into thinking his comeback will be the ruin of the flashy, phony stuff that's being promoted by his son. Along the way Harry steals from the club owner he works for, Phil Nosseross (Francis L. Sullivan), cuckolds him with his wife, Helen Nosseross (Googie Withers), whom he also betrays, and deludes the one woman who loves him, Mary Bristol (Gene Tierney). Things go very wrong for Harry when Phil does some betraying of his own. A brutal climax of the movie is when one of Kristo's wrestlers, The Strangler (Mike Mazurki), shows up at Harry's training hall and taunts Gregorius. Things spin out of control and suddenly Gregorius and The Strangler are in the ring and at each other's throats, a powerful old man and a wrestling thug. No one can stop them and the fight goes on and on. Gregorius finally wins, but dies minutes later. Harry has suddenly lost his protection against Kristo. He flees with Kristo's mob after him, running down wet streets and the embankment of the Thames. He doesn't escape.

This is an excellent movie that in many ways points to how powerful a well-done noir can be. Most of the film is shot at night, with harsh lighting, sweating close-ups, echoing footsteps and a gritty realism. There is no really sympathetic character in the movie, certainly not Harry. His girlfriend, played by Gene Tierney, is nearly irrelevant to the plot. Widmark does an excellent job as Harry. He was an actor who never seemed too concerned that some of his roles were of unlikable people. Harry is weak and untrustworthy but he has a kind of grubby charm. The secondary cast members are all excellent. And I can't emphasize enough how powerful the wrestling match was between Zlysko and Mazurki. It was tough to watch.

If you have an all-region DVD player, you might want to consider getting the Criterion Region 1 DVD. It has a great DVD transfer and a fine commentary by Glenn Erickson.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent film noir classic full of twists and turns, 12 Mar. 2011
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This review is from: Night And The City [1950] [DVD] (DVD)
Until this came up as a recommendation for film noir, I had neither seen nor heard of this film. I am so glad I bought it and this movie truly is one the noir greats. Set in post war London, the main character is a 2 bit hustler with grand ideas which never seem to work out, and indeed all of the characters are hustlers, con artists and underworld figures of one sort or another, and as with most noir films most of the action takes place at night or in dingy nightclubs and darkened rooms. The storyline of how everyone is hustling everyone else is very engaging and holds the audience's attention, as well as all the subtle sub text which is sadly missing from films today. It is hard to believe that a film made more than 60 years ago could hold an audience's attention so well, but it does.

Excellent example of the film noir genre and a great movie in it's own right. Highly recommended. The product itself was sharp with good sound quality.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An artist without an art., 10 Feb. 2011
By 
Spike Owen "John Rouse Merriott Chard" (Birmingham, England.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Night And The City [1950] [DVD] (DVD)
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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4.0 out of 5 stars Super Stanislaus Zbyszko!!, 27 Mar. 2014
This review is from: Night And The City [1950] [DVD] (DVD)
Harry Fabian is a small-time American nightclub tout with dreams of breaking the mob run monopoly on wrestling. Playing wife against husband, and father against son it is only a matter of time before the game becomes deadly and the cost of playing greater than he could have ever imagined.

Fans of Gerald Kersh’s novel of the same name will likely much prefer the Irwin Winkler version starring Robert De Niro and Jessica Lange, Dassin (by his own admission) didn’t bother to read the book before diving straight into the screenplay, then straight into filming before delivering the principle footage to his Studio boss Daryn Zanuck. They took this as a slight, as did Kersh himself but in an interview years later Dassin spoke of the urgency placed on his completion of the project. Dassin was sent to London to make this movie, one that Zanuck described as “most likely your last”, having been caught up in Joe McCarthy’s agenda driven hunt that saw so many incredible talents blacklisted for supposed communist leanings. It’s this time restraint that explains Jo Eisinger’s script but also adds a degree of urgency, danger and thrill to every shot that the remake simply doesn’t have. Dassin, like Fabian (Widmark), is running out of road leaving him short on time and allies of influence.

The cinematography of Night and the City captures not just Dassin’s urgency brilliantly but also the frantic, dangerous, post-war heartbeat of London. A London that’s raw, still in large parts rubble, but also extremely brutal and individualistic and dark. It’s a reactionary city to one that stood shoulder to shoulder against the advance of Hitler’s forces – Dassin’s lens captures this in its entirety. The use of the camera as a point of view is exceptional. The long take in the back of one of Kristo’s goon’s car showcases Theatreland and Leicester Square brilliantly. It has a beauty and fluidity to it that sits alongside the opening shot of Touch of Evil (some eight years later), Al Pacino’s attempted exodus in Carlito’s Way (forty-three years later) not to mention more than responsible for one of two similar shots showcased in Steven Soderbergh’s Oceans Eleven (fifty-one years later). I stress these films that follow Night and the City in an attempt to demonstrate how phenomenal the look of this film is, how complicated the construction of a film like this is, and when you factor in the restrictions put upon Jules Dassin with the U.S Government’s very own Witchmaster General breathing down his collar it becomes even more impossible, beautiful, visceral.

Richard Widmark (Pickup on South Street, The Alamo) gives close to a career best performance as the reasonably settled grifter Harry Fabian. Widmark has an ability in his performance that allows you to like him at all times even though you know he’s far from always likeable. It’s the kind of performance that you’d associate with James Cagney only without the I’m James Cagney barrage that comes along with him. Cagney is never entirely separable from the fact that you know he’s acting, you can see his acting. Widmark is Fabian, Fabian is Widmark, there’s a blurring of actor and character in the same way he manages to blur the lines in the spectrum of morality. He showcases the pained journey of his director beautifully on screen. As his options narrow forcing him down a road he fears to travel the deteriorate is visible on his face, the realisation that inevitably there is only one way the entire game can end. Magnificent. The supporting cast is incredible. Googie Withers gives a strong performance as Helen, the long suffering wife of blunderbuss Philip Nosseross (played by Francis L. Sullivan) who is also amazing. Herbert Lom gives a chilling and controlled masterclass in acting as mob boss Kristo while Gene Tierney smoulders her way through what limited screen time she has. Tierney might seem like an odd choice for such a small, relatively redundant, supporting role but at the time she was going through quite a messy end to a relationship (is there any other kind?) and was suffering from depression. Zanuck asked Dassin personally to cast her in order to get her out of Hollywood for a while, suddenly one exile had a travelling companion and the role was written for her. Alongside Widmark, both on screen as business partner and as scene stealer extraordinaire, is Stanislaus Zbyszko (as Gregorius – wrestling giant and Kristo’s father). When looking around for his powerful and commanding giant Gregorius, Dassin commented that he wanted the wrestling champion from his childhood to play him but he couldn’t remember his name or face – but he should be that kind of person. Zbyszko was wrestling champion during Dassin’s childhood and obliged the director to play the role. The man is wrestling. The man is the definition of the word champion. The man wore a thousand battles painted across his face and not only is he a powerful and commanding wrestler but a powerful and commanding actor. In scenes alongside Widmark he matches him in all fields, in scenes alongside his on-screen son (Lom) he burns the young actor with the intensity of a thousand suns and when he fights The Strangler (Mike Mazurki) he is as mesmerising and dominant as any actor, any wrestler, any human you’re ever likely to witness. He’s nothing short of a god, captured and immortalised so that a name (already forgotten in 1950) will never be forgotten again.

Night and the City is the quintessential film noir and all without Jules Dassin knowing much (if anything) about noir. He knew about storytelling, about suspense, and conflict and had an acute awareness of how Fabian’s story should end and how (he thought) his own would. Many a director would be lucky to make a film like this at any point of their career let alone at what he thought was the end of his. Five years later he would re-blossom and give the world Rififi for which we would be eternally thankful, the second coming of an incredible director guaranteeing audiences another quarter of a century of work from this wonderful and gentle man.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not quite a classic but 4 1/2 stars, 13 Dec. 2014
By 
Mr. E. A. Dobson "dwardstings" (West Yorkshire,United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Night And The City [1950] [DVD] (DVD)
I actually saw the remake first and I don't remember being particularly impressed. This is perhaps my favourite film by Dassin but I've only seen Rififi, Thieves Highway & Brute Force. The only negative I can think of is the score being occasionally obtrusive. Great locations, supporting cast and a reminder of how good Widmark was. Highly recommended and actually much better than I expected, it was not well thought of on its initial release. Extras on the standard bfi dvd, a 2005 interview with Dassin, commentary by Paul Duncan & comparison of US & UK versions, also comes with a nice booklet.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Night and the City (1950) ... Jules Dassin ... Criterion Collection (2005)", 14 Dec. 2010
By 
J. Lovins "Mr. Jim" (Missouri-USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Night And The City [1950] [DVD] (DVD)
The Criterion Collection presents "NIGHT AND THE CITY" (1950) (96 min/B&W) (Fully Restored/Dolby Digitally Remastered) -- Harry Fabian (Richard Widmark) 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.

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]

BIOS:
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)
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Overlooked classic, 7 April 2009
By 
I. Stuart "CambsMusicLover" (Cambridge,UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Night And The City [1950] [DVD] (DVD)
Its all been said better than I could possibly do . An engrossing thriller set in post war London, a ruined scarred city populated by people who struggle to survive in this cruel landscape. Do yourself a treat , take off the phone , put your feet up and enjoy!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Anglo-American synthesis somewhat unconvincing, 2 April 2013
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This review is from: Night And The City [1950] [DVD] (DVD)
I have mixed feelings as to this film's merits. Along with another reviewer (Humpty Dumpty) I find the Anglo-American synthesis robs the production of much of its its authenticity.
On the positive side, I found the accompanying music score both appropriate and thankfully restrained. The above not withstanding, I feel able to give a four star rating and to commend the roles played by Richard Widmark and Judy Withers in particular. Good film and sound quality throughout.
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Night And The City [1950] [DVD]
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