Though most feel Carol Reed’s The Third Man was the greatest Brit noir, I feel Jules Dassin’s Night and the City was more “noirish” and definitive of the two, and hence should rank higher in the pantheon of great film noirs. McCarthy’s horrendous witch-hunt forced Dassin to flee from America just before he begun working on this movie, and his mental effect clearly shows here. One of the bleakest movies I’ve watched, Night and the City drew a truly nightmarish picture of crime, corruption, human weakness, urban paranoia and existential angst. The basic surmise of the movie is about a small-time hustler who wants to strike big, and who, in the end, "sinks into the quagmire of his own ambition." Terrific camera work, through exceptional use of expressionist lighting, disorienting visuals, chiaroscuro, and oblique camera angles, turned the teeming metropolis of London into a brooding urban jungle infested with thugs and con men. The acting is first-rate throughout, especially Richard Widmark as the slimy anti-hero, and Francis L. Sullivan as the sleazy owner of a seedy joint (his grotesque physicality reminded me of Orson Welles’ legendary turn in Touch of Evil). The deeply ominous soundtrack, the morally ambiguous tone and the frenetic narrative, too, played vital roles in making this a thrilling masterpiece. The lovely Gene Tierny, of Laura fame, played the moral backbone of the story.
Director: Jules Dassin Genre: Film Noir/Crime Thriller/Urban Drama/Gangster Movie Language: English Country: UK