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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Night and the City

Based on the novel of the same name by Gerald Kersh, Night and the City is a 1950 film noir directed by Jules Dassin and starring Richard Widmark, Gene Tierney, Googie Withers and Herbert Lom.
Harry Fabian (Widmark) is a grifter in London, who uses his girlfriend Mary (Tierney) as well as her boss Phil (Francis L. Sullivan) and his wife Helen (Withers) to finance his lifestyle and scams. His latest plan is to host his own wrestling matches in London by manipulating retired wrestling great Gregorius (Stanislaus Zbyszko) who has had a falling out with his son Kristo (Herbert Lom), an underworld figure who effectively controls all wrestling in London. But when his manipulation of Gregorius causes the old wrestler's accidental death and Kristo puts a price on Harry's head, his schemes start to unravel.
Whilst not received well upon its initial release, Night and the City is now considered a classic of the genre. Utterly grim, cynical and pessimistic, the film's stark black and white distorted visuals, lack of sympathetic characters and down beat conclusion all contribute to a true glimpse into an urban nightmare. Richard Widmark gives a great lead performance whilst the prolonged wrestling scene between real life former wrestlers Stanislaus Zbyszko and Mike Mazurki remains one of the film's many highlights. Forced out of Hollywood due to the blacklist, director Jules Dassin was forced to shoot the film on location in London and at the Shepperton Studios, providing the film with its original setting. A true look into the Abyss, Night and the City is the spiritual precursor of later urban nightmares like Taxi Driver and Seven and a must-see for all fans of film noir and classic crime flicks.