11/23/2014  
What If on DVD & Blu-ray Nov 25Hart To Hart: Season 3 on DVD Dec 9The Simpsons: Season 17 on DVD & Blu-ray Dec 2Robin Williams Remembered - Pioneers of Television on DVD Dec 2Kung Fu Girl / Whiplash on DVD Dec 2Broad City: Season 1 on DVD Dec 2Roger Corman's Masque of Red Death on DVD Nov 25

follow us on twitter

dOc on facebook

NE News Editor

What If on DVD & Blu-ray Nov 25...
Hart To Hart: Season 3 on DVD Dec 9...
Beyonce Debuts Music Video ... Suck It Iggy, J.Lo and K...
'Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1' Renews Heated Polit...
The Simpsons: Season 17 on DVD & Blu-ray Dec 2...

JB Joseph Burke

The Answer to American Idol's Problems Is......
CONCRETE BLONDES...
CREAM FAREWELL CONCERT...
JACK REACHER...
MANBORG...

CA Chuck Aliaga

THE ATTACK (BLU-RAY)...
CRYSTAL FAIRY & THE MAGICAL CACTUS (BLU-RAY)...
THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE (BLU-RAY)...
AIN'T IN IT FOR MY HEALTH: A FILM ABOUT LEVON HELM (BLU...
THE LADY (BLU-RAY)...

JS Jesse Shanks

2 BROKE GIRLS...
KATT WILLIAMS: KATTPACALYPSE...
NORMAN MAILER: THE AMERICAN...
DARK SHADOWS: THE GREATEST EPISODES COLLECTION - FAN FA...
JACK KEROUAC - KING OF THE BEATS...

MZ Mark Zimmer

Take Part in a Film Restoration...
STORAGE WARS: SEASON ONE...
LOST KEATON...
BLACK NARCISSUS (BLU-RAY)...
THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE MOTION PICTURE TRILOGY (BLU-...

JD Jon Danziger

SUNSET BOULEVARD...
TABLOID...
CUL-DE-SAC...
3 WOMEN...
BASEBALL'S GREATEST GAMES: 1986 WORLD SERIES GAME 6...

RJ Ross Johnson

THE DEVIL'S NEEDLE AND OTHER TALES OF VICE AND REDEMPTI...
THE TROUBLE WITH TOLSTOY...
HISTORY OF THE WORLD IN TWO HOURS...
ANATOMY OF A MURDER...
COLD SWEAT...

RR Rich Rosell

LONDON TO BRIGHTON...
AFTER.LIFE...
MYSTERY TRAIN (BLU-RAY)...
NIGHT TRAIN TO MUNICH...
THE NATURAL (BLU-RAY)...

JC Joel Cunningham

WINGS OF DESIRE...
A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS...
MONSOON WEDDING...
PIERROT LE FOU...
SMALLVILLE: THE COMPLETE EIGHTH SEASON...

MS Matt Serafini

THE STEPFATHER...
THE HILLS RUN RED...
MANAGEMENT...
NIGHT OF DEATH...
GNAW...

DH Dan Heaton

NIGHTS AND WEEKENDS...
THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE...

DD Dale Dobson

Film-Fest 4: Sundance 2000 & Hawaii...

JU Jeff Ulmer

THE WALTONS: THE COMPLETE 9TH SEASON...

RM Robert Mandel

Saving Private Ryan...

Share: email   Print      Technorati.gif   StumbleUpon.gif   MySpace   digg.gif delicious.gif   google.gif   magnolia.gif   facebook.gif
Permalink: Permalink.gif



Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

The Criterion Collection presents
Night and the City (1950)

"Don't be kind to me." 
- Harry Fabian (Richard Widmark)

Review By: Jon Danziger  
Published: February 07, 2005

Stars: Richard Widmark, Stanislaus Zbyszko, Gene Tierney, Googie Withers, Hugh Marlowe, Francis L. Sullivan, Herbert Lom, Mike Mazurski 
Director: Jules Dassin

MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 01h:35m:40s
Release Date: February 01, 2005
UPC: 715515015721
Genre: film noir


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A BA+B B

DVD Review

The postwar political climate may not have been kind to Jules Dassin, but thankfully, history and the Criterion Collection are. As they have done for Rififi and Thieves' Highway, here the folks at Criterion go all out for Night and the City, a movie not especially highly regarded in its time, and remade poorly by Irwin Winkler and Richard Price. What you'll find here is a sharp, smart, taut film noir, odd in many ways but exemplary of the genre in others, and a fast-paced and gorgeously photographed story.

The title of the movie puts forward two of the crucial aspects of almost all noir—these pictures are thoroughly urban, and the action begins only when the sun goes down. The city in question is London, though our hero is from the States—Richard Widmark plays Harry Fabian, a small-time hustler forever on the make, in the rich Sammy Glick tradition. There's always a scheme with Harry, and today's has to do with getting some seed money to invest in a greyhound track; his girlfriend, Mary, knows that this one will go kablooey just like all the others. Harry works as a club tout—that is, he finds rich, unsuspecting customers for the club in which Mary works, where the men are overcharged for drinks and for the time and attention of Mary and her cocktail waitress colleagues. (It's not too tough to break the Hays Code on this one; Dassin couldn't say it, but it's little more than a brothel, with Harry pimping for the girls.) Running the club is the overweight and overbearing Phil (the splendid Francis L. Sullivan) and his wife, Helen (Googie Withers), who puts up with Phil because of what he's got stuffed in the safe.

Harry thinks finally his ship has come in: he's going to take on Kristo, the mobbed-up wrestling promoter who's got a monopoly in London, by putting on a bout blessed by Kristo's father, Gregorius, unhappy with the charlatanism that his son has used to taint the sanctity of his sport. Harry owes money to everybody all over town, but he couldn't be more sure that this is his big chance; watching him play out his destiny makes this a film full of pity and terror, for Harry is a fabulously well-realized character.

Dassin deserves a huge amount of credit for that, but at least as much praise should be heaped on Widmark, an actor who was so great at playing bad guys, and yet never quite got his due. With his peaked lapels and shabby boutonniere, Widmark's Harry is always on the make; he's at once charming and menacing, and Widmark is manic, jacked up, and sweaty throughout almost the whole movie. Harry is almost always on the go, and so the questions about him always recur: what's he running away from? And where's he going in such a hurry? The beautiful Gene Tierney doesn't get much to do as Mary, but she's lovely nonetheless doing it; and structurally it's an odd movie, giving over a little too much time to the sanctity of Greco-Roman wrestling, and featuring a penultimate climactic sequence that hasn't much to do with our hero. (Giving an especially fine performance, however, is Stanislaus Zbyszko, as Gregorius, both a fearsome world-class wrestler in the twilight of his years, and a patriarch inspiring both fear and love in his boy.) As with many films in the genre, this one is creepily fatalistic about the inherent folly in all human endeavors, and is brutal about what it perceives to be the fictions of loyalty and love. It's a highly stylized story, and not a very straightforward one; but if you're a fan of the genre and the period (and heaven knows I am), you're likely to find much to love about Harry Fabian and his sad world.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: At times it looks like you could cut yourself on some of these images, they're so sharp. The movie looks magnificent here, with saturated blacks, a dense and carefully calibrated grayscale, and very little grain. I don't know of a noir picture on DVD that looks any better than this one.

Image Transfer Grade: A+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The mono track shows its limits; the actors' intensity and Dassin's restraint means that there are many scenes of the characters whispering feverishly at one another, and at times the dialogue can be challenging to make out. And the scoring, as well done as it is, can overwhelm the actors dynamically. But there's almost no hiss, pop or crackle here, which is a huge, huge bonus.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
3 Documentaries
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Glenn Erickson
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. accompanying booklet with an essay by Paul Arthur
  2. color bars
Extras Review: Glenn Erickson, who may be familiar to you for his online column, DVD Savant, provides a commentary track jam packed with information—he's especially good on comparing the shooting script to the novel on which it was based, and contrasting this American cut of the film with the one released in Great Britain. (The two versions don't seem to vary too remarkably; still, one can dream of a DVD release featuring both incarnations, copyright laws be damned.) The book was cleaned up a whole lot for Hays Code purposes, and Erickson makes apt comparisons, especially to another great noir yet to see its DVD release, Nightmare Alley. He's armed to the teeth with information—if you're dying to know the birthplace of every cast member, he's ready to tell you; he's also endlessly worshipful of the movie, and can get a little highfalutin' every now and again. (Here's a typically florid declaration—Erickson says that the movie is "an existential no man's land where only the guilty and the desperate roam.") All in all, a solid job, though.

Even more arcane is the accompanying essay by film professor Paul Arthur; you're better off getting down and dirty with the three accompanying documentaries. The first is a recent interview (17m:49s) with Dassin, who seems like a wonderful man and an accomplished raconteur. Much talk is given over to his being blacklisted, and his knocking heads with the film's producer, Daryl Zanuck; the director also sheepishly admits that, prior to making the movie, he hadn't read the novel. He's rapturous about Widmark especially, and wanted the actor to play Hamlet under his direction. 2 Versions, 2 Scores (23m:53s) is hosted by Christopher Husted, who talks us through the historical circumstances leading to two versions of the film: for the American one, on this disc, the score is by Franz Waxman, while the slightly longer British cut was scored by Benjamin Frankel. It's a great study in the power and importance of movie music—Frankel's score is more lyrical, Waxman's more menacing—and, as you might expect, there's a good deal of compare and contrast. Also, this documentary features extended scenes that were included in the British release, but not the American one. Finally, there's a 1970 French TV interview (25m:23s) with Dassin; it's got a crazily moving camera, a reporter asking softball questions ("Did you work with any other stars back then?"), and Dassin spinning stories of old Hollywood (e.g., dinner at Joan Crawford's house) and about his personal bête noire, Elia Kazan.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

A razor-sharp noir in a beautiful transfer, with a smart, informative package of extras.

 


Back to top

Search 10,000+ titles:

or Advanced Search

DVD REVIEW ARCHIVE


Get FREE Shipping on all orders at TimeLife.com! - 120x90

 



Microsoft Store

Keywords

comedy, television, music, beyonce, 7/11, american music awards, sunday, movie, hunger games: mockingjay-part 1, danny strong, christian toto, john nolte, sarah seltzer, documentary, action, foo fighters, beat the bots tour, 2015, sonic highways, fenway park in boston, wrigley field in chicago, citi field in new york, rfk stadium in washington d.c., chris pratt, guardians of the galaxy, dave chappelle, shailene woodley, ansel elgort, steve carell, michael sam, celebrity, judi dench, esio trot, bbc, philomena, dustin hoffman, richard curtis, horror, sci-fi, james bond, christoph waltz, daniel craig, ralph fiennes, ben whishaw, naomie harris, miley cyrus, patrick schwarzenegger, adore you, arnold schwarzenegger, maria schriver, family, the big bang theory, mrs. wolowitz, carol ann susi, breast cancer, jennifer actress, plunging neckline, movies, christopher nolan, big hero 6, interstellar, gone girl, st. vincent, andy dick, arrested, tmz, stolen necklace

On Kindle!
On Facbook!
digitallyOBSESSED!
digitallyOBSESSED!
Promote Your Page Too

Visit:

Zarabesque.com

earth mosaics

Original Magic Dress.com

Susti Heaven

DVD Marketplace

Snappy Planet

Become a Reviewer | Search | Review Vault | Reviewers
Readers | Webmasters | Privacy | Contact
Microsoft Store