Night and the City

Night and the City ★★★★½

“Born a hustler, you will die a hustler."

Genuinely upset I was not told there was this pro wrestling-themed film noir starring Gene Tierney just floating out there for me...waiting. In the midst of being blacklisted, Jules Dassin channeled all that bitterness into this ultra-cynical take on the American dream—set in London. Everybody’s working an angle (dog tracks, crane games, forgery, overpriced chocolates). No one is honest. Even good-girl Mary Bristol (Tierney) is dishonest with herself, too dumb to cut off “club tout” boyfriend Harry Fabian (Richard Widmark, noir’s greatest runner). She’s still dreaming of happier times, which are so far in the rear-view mirror it’s laughable.

When Fabian breaks bad (like, real bad), the entire city of London is on his tail, ready to swallow him whole and spit out the bones into the darkness and smoke. The irony of the film is that the man set up as the literal Big Bad, Phil Nosseross, the monstrous, almost Jabba the Hutt-like club lord, is the one who was right all along: Fabian is a disruptor, everything he touches turns to mud. There are no dreamers allowed in this Earthly Hell. He must sleep with the Thames fishes so the scales of this sick city can find some equilibrium.

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