Saturday, February 13, 2010

Night and the City

This was a film I had been wanted to see for a long time because it is always described as an authentic noir shot in London in 1950. And it did not disappoint.

Richard Widmark plays Harry Fabian, a small-time hustler who overreaches himself by trying to become a wrestling promoter. It is a vivid performance and Fabian's character is discussed in Paul Arthur's essay on the film:

Harry, famously referred to by a romantic rival as “an artist without an art,” is a figure of palpable instability, always in the midst of a surefire shady venture, some criminalized shortcut to what he describes as “a life of ease and plenty.”

Unfortunately, every jittery step he takes brings him closer to immanent disaster and death (in addition to morbid visual cues, variants of the phrase “You’re a dead man” are a key dialogue motif). Worse still, his precipitous actions drag down everyone around him—although, with the exception of his mistreated girlfriend, Mary Bristol, these underworld characters largely deserve their malign fates.

It is also fascinating to see British stalwarts of the era such as Herbert Lom, Googie Withers and Francis L. Sullivan acting in this essentially American film and looking thoroughly at home there.

Night and the City is also notable for its use of London locations, including a long-vanished shot tower by Waterloo Bridge.

3 comments:

Wartime Housewife said...

Like the sound of this. I am always amused by the name 'Googie Withers'. Surely this is an equine complaint.

Backwatersman said...

I was given this as a Christmas present in 2008. You've reminded me that I haven't got round to watching it yet.

Frank H Little said...

It's surprising that more Kersh novels haven't been made into movies.