USA Today - 02/11/2005
"[T]his is the real thing..."
Uncut - 11/01/2007 5 stars out of 5 -- "[A] terrific noir amid the angular shadows of postwar London."
Empire - 11/01/2007 4 stars out of 5 -- "Dassin took the location realism that he had pioneered in THE NAKED CITY and imbued it with vivid low-life characterisation and a mood of desperate paranoia."
Sight and Sound - 11/01/2007
"Richard Widmark excels as a small-time hustler....Dassin evokes the seedy glamour, misery and violence of Soho..."
In NIGHT AND THE CITY, director Jules Dassin brilliantly fuses two styles of filmmaking, crossing the expressionist lighting and framing of film noir with the almost documentary location shooting he used for THE NAKED CITY (1948). Dassin treats NIGHT AND THE CITY's central London locations as strange exotic places. As the movie opens, it is nighttime and small-time hood Harry Fabian (Richard Widmark) is running from almost unseen pursuers. Harry crosses in front of St. Paul's Cathedral, and Dassin shows this familiar tourist sight from a very high angle, then immediately juxtaposes a shot of Harry escaping through bombed-out ruins. While Dassin and director of photography Max Greene shoot exteriors from high angles or from cramped doorways, they shoot interiors from low angles catching their actors against heavily contrasted backgrounds. The result is a movie full of diamond-sharp, angst-ridden visuals.
NIGHT AND THE CITY is built round the dynamic febrile performance of Richard Widmark as the constantly scheming, ever-overreaching Harry. Herbert Lom is brilliant as the Greek who ruthlessly controls wrestling in London. Francis L. Sullivan, huge and slow moving, exudes menace as nightclub owner Phil Nosseross. And Googie Withers is very striking as Nosseross's smart but desperate wife.
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Shot at London Film Studio, Shepperton.
NIGHT AND THE CITY was released in June 1950.
In an interview with Patrick McGilligan, director Jules Dassin says that early in 1950, when the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) hearings were in full swing, he got into trouble over working with blacklisted writer Albert Maltz. Twentieth Century Fox studio head Darryl Zanuck--who was no friend of the committee--tried to protect Dassin. Zanuck went to Dassin's house at night and said, "Get out. Get out fast. Here's a book. You're going to London. Get a screenplay as fast as you can and start shooting the most expensive scenes. They might let you finish it." Zanuck's plan worked. Dassin went to London and shot NIGHT AND THE CITY. However, later, Dassin was to be named by an informer and blacklisted.
Director Jules Dassin says, in an interview with Patrick McGilligan, that just before shooting began on NIGHT AND THE CITY, Twentieth Century Fox studio head Darryl Zanuck called him in London, and said, "I want you to write in a part for Gene Tierney." Dassin replied, "She's a star. What do you mean 'write in' a part'" Zanuck said, "This girl has had un grand chagrin d'amour--'a big deception in love'--and is suicidal. I know her. She'll go to work and it'll save her." Dassin continues, "This from Zanuck, the guy who is known for being so, so tough, so heartless. We wrote in a part for her. Darryl sent me a one-word telegram: 'Thanks.' That was the unknown Zanuck."
Jules Dassin, who lives in Athens, Greece, and has directed movies in Greek, in French, and in English, actually grew up in Harlem and the Bronx in New York, playing stickball in the streets with his six siblings.
Additional cast: Aubrey Dexter (Chilk), Russell Westwood (Yosh), James Hayter (Figler), Maureen Delany (Anna O'Leary), Thomas Gallagher (Bagrag), Ken Richmond (Nikolas), Betty Shale (Mrs. Pinkney), and Tony Simpson (Cozen).
Additional crew: Freddie Fox & Robert E. Dearing (personal assistants to the producer), and George Mills & Percy Hermes (assistant directors).
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