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NIGHT AND THE CITY
1950 - Jules Dassin
United Kingdom
87
Opening Shot

After a brief narratation introduction (with a few shots throughout the city of London at night) the film begins with a long shot looking down at a man being chased through the shadowy night of the city. The noir elements are immediatly set in style and in tone. You immediately become apart of this world...

The Film

"You're a dead man Harry Fabian. A dead man." Jules Dassin's brilliant 1950 film Night and the City is a quintessential film noir in the truest sense. While it's often debated and interpreted as to what 'film noir' is, the key element of noir lies in style (even more so then content or substance). Through it's dark and atmospheric visuals, noir style generally derives from expressionism of the silent era. While elements of themes and characters exist, film noir is ultimately a style, and Night and the City captures it to perfection! It's a film of such incredible mood and atmospheric black and white photography, shadows, and energy. The images are truly powerful and absolutely unforgettable. Night and the City is an assault on human morals. Richard Widmark gives an astonishing performance as Fabian, an ambitious con man who dreams of becoming a big shot wrestling promoter in London. Fabian just wants to be somebody, and even when he is, his fate is evident, as the network of deceit and lies slowly surround him. Even when he was on top, Fabian remained a 'dead man who was running and running'. The ending is absolutely brilliant, as Fabian provides a moment of redemption and morality to his girlfriend (played by the beautiful and incomparable Gene Tierney), who consistently tries to steer him in the right direction. Night and the City is a flawless masterpiece of endless depth, themes, and style. It's a film that grabs hold of you, absorbs you into it's world and imagery, and never lets up. It's classic film noir, and in fact, among the finest ever made!

The Filmmaker

American-born Jules Dassin began in Hollywood making films within several genres. His greatest work in America were crime noir thrillers which came at the end of the 1940s with the violent Brute Force (1947), raw and gritty Naked City (1948), and the masterful noir Thieves Highway (1949). Each of these films were groundbreaking in different ways and Naked City is especially influential as it was one of the earliest Hollywood films to be entirely shot outside a studio and on location and it remains a pivotal influence to many documentary-style crime thrillers and television series that followed. Dassin's last film in Hollywood, Thieves Highway, is one of the most exciting noirs ever made. In 1950, Dassin was forced to depart America as he was blacklisted for associating with the Communist Party. However, his career certainly didn't end there, and in many respects it grew as Dassin became more beloved in Europe then he ever was in America. Dassin continued to make films in Europe, including: United Kingdom (1950's Night and the City which to me is a masterpiece and one of the very greatest noirs of all-time), France (1955's Rififi- his most beloved film which is well known for a long and silent heist sequence), and Greece (1960's Never on Sunday- which was nominated for five Oscars including two for Dassin as Best Director and Best Screenplay). Dassin turned a bit more "arty" with his post-Rififi films, but he became highly respected in Europe most notably in France. His films prior to the unfortunate blacklisting, stand among the best of its kind in American cinema.

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