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Night and the City (The Criterion Collection)

4.5 out of 5 stars 50 customer reviews

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(Feb 01, 2005)
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The Criterion Collection
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Two-bit hustler Harry Fabian (Richard Widmark) aches for a life of ease and plenty. Trailed by an inglorious history of go-nowhere schemes, he stumbles upon a chance of a lifetime in the form of legendary wrestler Gregorius the Great (Stanislaus Zbyszko). But there is no easy money in this underworld of shifting alliances, bottomless graft, and pummeled flesh—and soon Fabian learns the horrible price of his ambition. Luminously shot in the streets of London, Jules Dassin’s Night and the City is film noir of the first order and one of the director’s crowning achievements.

Richard Widmark never had better exercise for his Cagney-like bouncing-ball energy than Night and the City, a classic film noir about a hustler's meteoric flame-out. Although acknowledged as one of the great noir pictures, it's actually set and shot in London, which gives an exotic, displaced novelty to the usual noir universe. Widmark's performance as Harry Fabian is a jibbering, wheedling, giggling tour de force, as Harry schemes his way to setting up a wrestling match and finally establishing himself as a "somebody." Instead, he manages to irritate the underworld heavies (memorably, Herbert Lom and Francis L. Sullivan) whose fingers are already deeply into the criminal pie. Gene Tierney and Googie Withers are the women--one good, one bad--who witness Harry's descent. This was director Jules Dassin's final project for a Hollywood studio before the blacklist forced him out, and he packs the film with tortured camera angles and spidery noir shadows; the movie's a real visual clambake. Night and the City was remade, tiredly, with Robert De Niro in 1992. Bonus: See how strongly this movie has influenced Martin Scorsese. --Robert Horton

Special Features

  • Audio commentary by film scholar Glenn Erickson
  • Video interview with director Jules Dassin
  • Excerpts from a 1972 French interview with Dassin
  • Two Versions, Two Scores, a look at two different scores composed for the British and American releases of the film
  • New essay by film critic Paul Arthur

Product Details

  • Actors: Richard Widmark, Gene Tierney, Googie Withers, Hugh Marlowe, Francis L. Sullivan
  • Directors: Jules Dassin
  • Writers: Austin Dempster, Gerald Kersh, Jo Eisinger, William E. Watts
  • Producers: Darryl F. Zanuck, Samuel G. Engel
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Closed-captioned, Full Screen, NTSC, Special Edition, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: February 1, 2005
  • Run Time: 96 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0006Z2NE0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #52,634 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Night and the City (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
This has always been one of my favorite Richard Widmark films, and it's also one of the most underated film noirs of all time. Widmark plays Harry Fabian, a hopeless hustler and conman in London who dreams of making it big. Gene Tierney plays his girlfriend, who also falls prey to Fabian's schemes and tricks. Fabian comes up with a plan to become a "bigshot": be a promoter in the wrestling world, and arrange for one of the biggest matches in London's history. The problem is that he has to meet the approval of the leader of London's underworld, and that's where his plans fall apart. The suckers who supported Fabian soon realize their error, and the mob comes looking for Fabian with a vengeance, in one of the most memorable chases in film noir history. Fabian has no one left to turn to, except his helpless girlfriend, but even she can do nothing to save him. The ending is one of the best (in my opinion) of all film noirs. Even though Widmark's character is totally unlikable, I consider this one of his finest performances. Gene Tierney is also great, but she gets far too little screen time. I've waited years for this classic to be released on dvd, and finally my wish has been answered! If you're even remotely interested in classic film noir, this dvd is a definite must-have!
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Format: DVD
Harry Fabian (Richard Widmark) always seems to be running. From thugs, backfired schemes, rip-offs, etc. In London, he hits upon a surefire get-rich-quick scheme: to promote a one-time famous wrestler, Gregorius (Stanilaus Zbyszko), in direct opposition to the current wrestling kingpin Kristo (a young Herbert Lom), Greogorius' son. But, as always, money is the problem. He finds backing from an oily night club owner's wife (Googie Withers) who has big plans of her own. But the night club owner Nosserus (Francis L.Sullivan) is on to Fabian's scheme and the double-cross has disastrous results as Fabian tries to keep the gig going at all costs. Jules Dassin created a small masterpiece with this 1950 film noir and Criterion has done it justice on the disc with fine extras and a good print. The film boasts an excellent British/American cast and a great score by Franz Waxman. Widmark is dynamic as Fabian and Gene Tierney is good as Mary, his long suffering girlfriend who works in Nosserus' club, The Silver Fox. But the best female role is Withers as Helen, who reveals a ruthlessness that surpasses even Fabian's wild schemes. "Night and the City" pulls no punches in showing what happens to some people who stop at nothing to get what they want at the expense of others...and how big dreams can turn into nightmares. Highly recommended.
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Format: DVD
"Night and the City" was director Jules Dessin's last film before falling victim to the Hollywood Blacklist for 5 years. Shot in London and based on the novel by Gerald Kersh, it's a film noir great, but not strictly an American film. Screenwriter Jo Eisinger radically altered Kersh's novel. And there are two versions of the film: one exclusively for English consumption and this American version, into which director Jules Dessin had more input and which was also released to international markets. The English version is longer and features an entirely different score. But this is the shorter, tighter, more cynical American version of "Night and the City".

"Night and the City" takes place among the hustlers, club owners, and purveyors of evening entertainment in London. Harry Fabian (Richard Widmark) works as a club tout for The Silver Fox nightclub, targeting monied guests at local hot spots, cozying up to them with tall tales, and sending them over to the club for a good time. But Harry's always got scheme to get rich, as opposed to a plan of how to make a living, much to his girlfriend Mary's (Gene Tierney) chagrin. Harry's "highly inflamed imagination, coupled by delusions of grandeur" -as his employer bluntly remarks- never get him anywhere but into debt. One night Harry overhears a conversation between a old Greco-Roman wrestling champion, Gregorius (Stanislaus Zbyszko), and his son Kristo (Herbert Lom), the promoter for all London's wrestling matches. Harry sees the opportunity to exploit the elder man's distaste for the new flamboyant style of wrestling to set himself up as a promoter of old-style Greco-Roman wrestling. Gregorius agrees to work with him, and, although Kristo has a monopoly on wrestling in London, he is forced to allow Harry to proceed.
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After being blacklisted in Hollywood during the McCarthy-era witch hunts, director Jules Dassin moved to London and made the classic film noir, Night and the City for 20th Century Fox. He presents a shadowy underworld where life is cheap and money is king. Its inhabitants consist of drunks, thieves and other desperate people scrambling to eke out some kind of existence.

There is an audio commentary by none other than the DVD Savant himself, Glenn Erickson, author of The Film Noir essay on Night and the City. Erickson touches upon the film's troubled production history and references the book, the film's script and both versions, including cut scenes. This is a very knowledgeable track as Erickson covers many aspects of the movie.

In the "Jules Dassin Interview," he talks about how the Hollywood blacklisting made his life difficult. The veteran director tells some fascinating anecdotes in this substantial extra.

"2 Versions, 2 Scores" examines the musical score for the British version by Benjamin Frankel and the American one by Franz Waxman. Waxman's score is more dynamic while Frankel's is not as melodramatic.

"Cine-Parade Interview" is a 1972 French interview with Dassin who talks about his life and career, including an amusing anecdote about shooting a scene with Joan Crawford.

Finally, there is a theatrical trailer.
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