Night and the City (1950)

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Night and the City is a 1950 British film noir directed by Jules Dassin and starring Richard Widmark, Gene Tierney and Googie Withers. It is based on the novel of the same name by Gerald Kersh. Shot on location in London and at Shepperton Studios, the plot revolves around an ambitious hustler whose plans keep going wrong.

Director Dassin later confessed that he never read the novel the movie is based upon. In an interview appearing on The Criterion Collection DVD release, Dassin recalls that the casting of Tierney was in response to a request by Darryl Zanuck, who was concerned that personal problems had rendered the actress "suicidal," and hoped that work would improve her state of mind. The film's British version was five minutes longer, with a more upbeat ending and featuring a completely different film score. Dassin endorsed the American version as closer to his vision.

The film contains a very tough and prolonged fight scene between Stanislaus Zbyszko, a celebrated professional wrestler in real life, and Mike Mazurki, who before becoming an actor was himself a professional wrestler, which leads to the death of Zbyszko's character.

The film has been noted as ground breaking in its lack of sympathetic characters, the deadly punishment of its protagonist (in the American version), and especially in its realistic portrayal of triumph by racketeers neither slowed nor at all worried by the machinations of law. The film was first re-evaluated in the 1960s, as film noir became a celebrated genre, and it has continued to receive laudatory reviews to date. In Street with No Name: A History of the Classic American Film Noir film critic Andrew Dickos acclaims it as one of the seminal noirs of the classical period. noting, "... in a perfect fusion of mood and character, Dassin created a work of emotional power and existential drama that stands as a paradigm of noir pathos and despair."