Night And The City

1950, Movie, NR, 95 mins

Review

NIGHT AND THE CITY
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A dark, brooding noir, with Widmark riveting as a hustling promoter who sinks into the quagmire of his own ambitions. The film is set in London, where Widmark works for the obese Sullivan, owner of a sleazy dive. Widmark steers suckers to the joint on the promise of witnessing some racy shows, but it's all pretty tame stuff--even the very proper Tierney sings there, she being a disapproving girlfriend of wily Widmark. Tierney keeps after Widmark to get a decent job, but the con is in his blood and he is obsessed with developing a big money scheme. He overhears famed wrestler Zbyszko talking to his protege Ken Richmond in a huge sports arena owned by Zbyszko's son, Lom. Before Widmark is thrown out of the arena for hustling customers to Sullivan's club, he learns that Zbyszko is disgusted by the fake wrestling matches his son offers to the public. Zbyszko believes that only his traditional Greco-Roman wrestling is a pure sport. Widmark later goes to Zbyszko and cons him into believing that he will promote the long-neglected Greco-Roman wrestling and bring it back to the popularity it once enjoyed. The legendary wrestler agrees to lend his name to the enterprise, which incenses the powerful Lom, who threatens to kill Widmark if he misuses Lom's father. On the other hand, if he truly promotes Greco-Roman wrestling, Lom tells Widmark, he can go ahead.

NIGHT AND THE CITY is an uncompromising, exciting, anxiety-inducing film that is seen entirely through Widmark's desperate viewpoint. Director Dassin relentlessly displays London without charm and grace, showing only the seamy side where Widmark and his kind live out their unscrupulous lives without thought of love or compassion. Everything is cold and calculating, one character greedily using another for human control. The world Widmark desires to enter is that controlled by the Loms and Sullivans--who belong to a very exclusive club. They are as crooked and immoral as Widmark, but they have the money and the connections, and Widmark only aspires to be a loftier version of his own venal self. Despite the feeling of lonely helplessness that pervades the film, the story proceeds at such a frenetic pace that it's utterly captivating. Widmark's performance is nothing short of remarkable. Greene's camerawork is exceptional, as is Waxman's score. The wrestling scene between Zbyszko, a former heavyweight wrestling champion, and Mazurki is one of the most heart-pounding matches ever filmed. Remade, with mixed results, in 1992. leave a comment

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Night And The City
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