Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Night and the City (1950)

This somewhat strange film directed by Jules Dassin.  It starts promisingly enough, with London nightclub tout and general hustler Harry Fabian (Richard Windmark) trying to make it big and getting mixed up with some really dodgy (and powerful) people in the process. His long-suffering girlfriend Mary Bristol (Gene Tierney) tries to keep him pinned down to some sort of sense of reality, but without much success.  Harry tries to corner the wrestling market with the help of nightclub owner Philip Nosseross (Francis L. Sullivan), his wife Helen (Googie Withers) and former wrestling star Gregorius (Stanislaus Zbyszko). Virtually everyone's double-crossing everyone else, and the only thing stopping wrestling's big promoter Kristo (Herbert Lom) from obliterating Fabian is the fact that he's Gregorius' son.


It's an entertaining game of cat and mouse, to start with albeit with only two sympathetic characters (Mary and Gregorius), with Fabian seeming to somehow stay one step ahead, against all the odds. However it can't last... After about an hour there's a weird, overlong wrestling scene in which Gregorius dies; the ensuing scenes with Fabian trying to outrun Kristo seem to go on forever. Acting-wise Lom, Sullivan and Withers do a good job; I was never really quite convinced by Windmark's performance, and Tierney was criminally underused.  I think the direction was aiming for noir but didn't quite get it. 

Night and the City felt like a film in which the writers didn't know where to go after a promising start; I couldn't really recommend it myself, though a lot of people liked it more than I did.


CaptainD - Movie Reviews Blog

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