Today I talk about Night and the City. The night is tonight, tomorrow night…or any night. The city is London. Night and the City opens with an opening monologue with a voice talking about the city. The film’s opening narration, spoken by its director Jules Dassin in which i define as one of the finest noir classics all time.
Night and the City: In the Labyrinth of the underworld.(https://www.facebook.com/Wolffianclassicmoviesdigest/)
The night is tonight, tomorrow night…or any night. The city is London. Night and the City opens with a opening monologue with a voice talking about the city. The film’s opening narration, spoken by its director Jules Dassin, recalls how filmmaker Carol Reed opened his picture in the same way. The Third Man (1949) opened like this film in many ways. This will not be last comparison to reed’s flim as both titles suggest parallel themes of realism and expressionism, both go about in it in diffrent ways. The title night in the city is hard poetry as as Andrew Pulver observed in his volume for the British Film Institute. To be sure that Dassin’s cinematographer Max Greene shoots rich street photography recalling that of Weegee.
The locations range from flophouses to seamy flats, dive bars to alleyways. The familiar setting of London becomes a strange and unseemly environment as transforms the city into a sordid, alternate backdrop was a common theme in film noir another connection between Night and the City and The Third Man, which takes place in Vienna. Likewise, both films also use the crumbled post-World War II setting. It captures the underworld of the city which echoes the common connection of both movies of its theme.
Dassin and Reed each harnesses the post world war II setting of the underworld setting of the destroyed cities in aftermath of the war they harnesses the reality of exposing horrendous crimes as both also have been masterfully crafted with chiaroscuro shadows and off-kilter angles, accentuating the undercurrent of darkness beneath the settings of a world in its darkest place after the end of the war as our world struggled with our darkness and sin.
When Kersh’s novel was released in 1946, producer Charles K. Feldman paid $45,000 for the film rights and hired former police reporter Jo Eisinger to write the script. Feldman had negotiated with Jacques Tourneur (Out of the Past, 1947) to direct it yet it failed to go trough to production. The production, including the book-to-film rights and Eisinger’s script, was sold to Zanuck at Fox as he did it as favor for Jules Dassin remarked, “Zanuck pushed this book in my hand, and said, ‘You’re leaving, you’re getting out of here. You’re going to London and you’re going to make this film knowing the director was a member of the Communist Party since 1939 it was chance for him to do something boldly new for the studio. However, if given a choice, Dassin later claimed he would not have fled to avoid giving testimony. Nevertheless, Night and the City would be Dassin’s last film shot in the United States until Uptight in 1968. It’s a bleak and very dark look upon the city of London. I feel this movie is the definitive noir classic. Night and the City: In the Labyrinth by By Paul Arthur
At the heart of Night and the City is a master trope: the urban labyrinth. Cities in film noir are not simply dangerous or bristling with iconographic menace—they are visualized as death traps, spaces from which there can be no escape. This common pattern finds summary expression in Dassin’s film. Nearly every setting is crammed with architectural grids, frames, cul-de-sacs, narrow stairways, perspectives that choke off the mobility and freedom of human subjects (this is quoted form Night and the City: In the Labyrinth by Paul Arthur on the movie. I put link above too so you can read the wonderful essay that talks this flim) its one of the best noir classics all time in my eyes. Dassin’s status as an artist forced into isolation may have gained him, and Night and the City, sympathy after the film’s release but its well earned in my eyes as it is simply a marvelous movie.
NIGHT AND THE CITY review
Dassin’s well documented run and gun approach to shooting Night and the City is fully evident as the streets of London pop and fizzle under Dassin’s eye with an energy and fever akin to its underworld story. Its one of his finer noir classics that he crafted with such fine direction and craft.
The cinematography of Night and the City is remarkable with such fine details crafted by Mutz Greenbaum whom crafts out dripping alleyways with neon signs, walk-up flats, sweaty basement dives, and atmospheric streets. Greene shot them all with a combination of expert chiaroscuro and the fast-paced, documentary-style realism that really makes this noir classic a gem to behold upon the screen.
This is by far one of Richard Widmark’s best performances. He’s a live wire from start to finish. We never see Harry Fabian rest, not even once, as he’s trying to make his dreams of being a big shot a reality as he gives out one of his finest hours on the screen. It has wonderful acting by everyone in its cast.
The film’s centerpiece is a brutal impromptu wrestling match in Harry’s gym between The Strangler and Gregorius. Nobody can separate these two giant men and all Harry can do is watch and hope as his dreams of melding the classical and circus-like worlds of wrestling are dashed with every kidney punch and death grip attempt in this seedy classic.
This is by far one of the best crime stories I’ve ever seen. Dassin does an amazing job of ratcheting up the tension in every scene that makes it one of the finest noir movies I ever watched on the screen. You simply should see this classic movie today.
The Ruth rating: