Night and the City (1950)

“Harry, do you know what you’re doing? You’re killing me. You’re killing me and yourself.” Sleaze oozes out of every pore of this film noir classic, which was directed by Jules Dassin (The Naked City) and based on the 1938 novel of the same name by Gerald Kersh (Dassin later claimed that he didn’t even bother to read the novel until after the film was completed). Richard Widmark is brilliant as “Harry Fabian,” an ambitious, severely delusional and self-destructive American hustler who schemes to get a foothold in London’s seedy world of pro wrestling. Film was shot on location in London and features a solid supporting cast that includes Gene Tierney as “Mary Bristol,” Googie Withers as “Helen Nosseross,” Francis L. Sullivan (you may remember him as “Mr. Jaggers” in Great Expectations) as Phil Nosseross, Herbert Lom (Chief Inspector Dreyfus in the Pink Panther films) as “Kristo,” Stanislaus Zbyszko as “Gregorius the Great,” Mike Mazurki as “The Strangler” and Ada Reeve as “Molly.” Interestingly, Dassin was blacklisted by Hollywood during the production of the film. Critic Bosley Crowther called the finished product “a pointless, trashy yarn” with “little more than a mélange of maggoty episodes.” Useless Trivia: Night and the City was remade rather pointlessly and blandly in 1992 with Robert De Niro and Jessica Lange.

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