Saturday, August 24, 2013

Night and the City (1950)

Night and the City is a classic film noir based on the Gerald Kersh novel with Richard Widmark as Harry Fabian, a two-bit hustler scheming to become a big-time fight promoter in London.

Widmark is superb in what may be his best performance. He brings to mind James Cagney at times, but he’s actually more like Bugs Bunny, full of bravado and nervous energy.

And let’s not forget Mike Mazurski as the Strangler, as brutish as he was playing Moose Malloy in Murder, My Sweet but with a hint of more intelligence, and portly Francis L. Sullivan, a “fat man” in the style of Sydney Greenstreet, but more tragic. Herbert Lom, Googie Withers, and Stanislaw Zbyazko, once a real star of Roman-Greco wrestling, are also excellent. Gene Tierney, however, is superfluous as Widmark’s girlfriend, and Hugh Marlowe, who plays the sort of bland role he was often assigned in 20th Century Fox films, has little to do but express his disapproval for Fabian’s way of life.

The look of the film is one of its strengths with scenes cast in a luminous black contrasted with almost ghostly whites.

Dismissed as lurid nonsense about undesirable characters when released in 1950 (Variety chimed in with one of the few positive reviews), Night and the City is a masterpiece that hasn’t dated a bit. It has a modern sensibility that makes it more contemporary than its 1992 remake (with Robert DeNiro in Widmark’s role).

© 2009 Brian W. Fairbanks


1 comment:

  1. Dan Zukovic's "DARK ARC", a bizarre modern noir dark comedy called "Absolutely brilliant...truly and completely different..." in Film Threat, was recently released on DVD and Netflix through Vanguard Cinema (, and is currently debuting on Cable Video On Demand, including Fandor and snagfilms. The film had it's World Premiere at the Montreal World Film Festival, and it's US Premiere at the Cinequest Film Festival. Featuring Sarah Strange ("White Noise"), Kurt Max Runte ("X-Men", "Battlestar Gallactica",) and Dan Zukovic (director and star of the cult comedy "The Last Big Thing"). Featuring the Glam/Punk songs "Dark Fruition", "Ire and Angst", "F.ByronFitzBaudelaire" and a dark orchestral score by Neil Burnett.


    ***** (Five stars) "Absolutely brilliant...truly and completely different...something you've never tasted
    before..." Film Threat
    "A black comedy about a very strange love triangle" Seattle Times
    "Consistently stunning images...a bizarre blend of art, sex, and opium, "Dark Arc" plays like a candy-coloured
    version of David Lynch. " IFC News
    "Sarah Strange is as decadent as Angelina Jolie thinks she is...Don't see this movie sober!" Metroactive Movies
    "Equal parts film noir intrigue, pop culture send-up, brain teaser and visual feast. " American Cinematheque