Night and the City (1950)

 “Harry’s an artist without an art.”

Harry Fabian (Richard Widmark) is a small-time hustler in London. Harry has big ideas, but one scheme after another fails. Loyal girlfriend, Mary Bristol (Gene Tierney) always bails him out like the true co-dependent she is. One day, Harry desperately insinuates himself in the troubled relationship between crooked wrestling promoter Kristo (Herbert Lom) and his aging wrestling champion father, Gregorius the Great (Stanislaus Zbyszko). Fabian smooth talks Gregorius into signing a contract for his protege Nikolas. In very typical Fabian style, Harry imagines that he now controls all of the boxing in London. There’s a small problem with money, however, so Fabian hits everyone he knows for the cash he needs to start his promoting business.

He turns to shady nightclub owner, Phil Nosseross, owner of the Silver Fox Night Club. But Phil’s greedy wife, Helen (Googie Withers) has plans of her own …

Night and the City is a must-see for all film noir fans. Widmark delivers a great performance as hard-luck Harry–a little man with big plans. He’s so sure he’s ready for the big time and just needs the front money to create his dreams. From his cheap, loud checkered suits to his petulance when he can’t get the money he wants, Harry is a perfect character study. A superior supporting cast back Widmark, and the film is loaded with some great characters. Phil and Helen Nosseross are a shady pair who deserve one another–a couple of low-lifes who’ve managed to hit the big time. Various other low-lifes are scattered throughout the film, and they’re all full of big dreams just like Harry. Gregorius is in contrast to the toughs and the hoods; he’s an old-time wrestler–a man with principles. Ironically Gregorius throws his lot in with Harry–a man with no principles whatsoever. Night and The City from director Jules Dassin is a perfect film noir gem.

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Filed under Film Noir, Richard Widmark

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