Blu-Ray Review: Night and the City (Criterion) | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Thursday, September 16th, 2021  

Night and the City

Studio: Criterion

Aug 14, 2015 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Harry Fabian (Richard Widmark) is a piddling American swindler who’s had his fingers in countless unsuccessful get-rich-quick scams across the London underworld. One night out hustling, Fabian stumbles across what could be the scheme of his lifetime. He convinces an aging, once-legendary Greco-Roman wrestler named Gregorius to become his partner in a wrestling circuit, which puts him direct opposition to the local organized crime boss who controls pro wrestling in London—and is also Gregorius’ son. Fabian puts himself in an increasingly-tenuous situation as he scams several underworld figures in order to raise the funds to get his wrestling business off the ground, all to the dismay of his loving girlfriend (Gene Tierney) who longs for him to settle down.

Jules Dassin’s Night and the City was panned when it hit American and British cinemas in 1950; it wasn’t until film noir became more recognized as a filmmaking style years later that it was re-assessed as the gripping little crime drama that it is. The bonus supplements on Criterion’s new edition are heftier than they appear as listed on the back of the case. In addition to the familiar American cut, the Blu-ray includes the slightly longer British version, which features an entirely different score, as well as alternate and extended scenes which attempt make Fabian a more sympathetic character to the detriment of the movie’s spectacularly grim tone. (If you don’t have time to watch both versions, there’s a documentary included to explain the differences between the two, and gives context to their variations.) There’s also a ten-year-old interview with Jules Dassin which primarily focuses on the movie’s casting, as well as an episode of a 1970s French talk show in which Dassin discusses his Hollywood years, shares fantastic stories about Joan Crawford and Louis B. Mayer, and talks about fellow director Elia Kazan’s betrayal during the McCarthy era. This release comes highly recommended for noir fans.

Author rating: 7/10

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