Saturday, November 18, 2017

The TCM Film Noir for Sunday, November 19, at 10 a.m. ET is Night and the City (1950), Starring Richard Widmark and Gene Tierney



By David in TN
Saturday, November 18, 2017 at 12:51:00 A.M. EST

The TCM Film Noir for Sunday, November 19, at 10 a.m. ET is Night and the City (1950).


Night and the City (1950): Stanislaus Zbyszko, Richard Widmark, and Mike Mazurki

Richard Widmark brings his characterization (with the giggle) from Kiss of Death (1947).

Tierney and Widmark

Gene Tierney, billed as "the most beautiful woman in the history of the movies," co-stars as the Widmark character's night club singer girlfriend. It's another case of the girl can't help being in love with the wrong guy.


Set in London, Widmark plays a hustler involved in, of all things, London's wrestling game. The usual noir themes of betrayal, greed, etc., make up the plot.


Richard Widmark's character, Harry Fabian, on the run

The German title translates as The Rat of Soho


N.S.: I saw the original as a teenager, but roughly 20 years later I saw the eponymous 1992 remake, starring Robert De Niro and Jessica Lange. The remake pushed out virtually all of my memories of the original, except for a vague recollection of the desperate loser Widmark played—I’d completely forgotten that Gene Tierney played his girlfriend. How could I have forgotten the world's most famous overbite?!


In the remake, wrestling was replaced with boxing, and the whole thing took place, if memory serves, in Greenwich Village. I believe the Jessica Lange character was married.


“Professional Jew” comic Alan King (a staple on The Ed Sullivan Show, during my childhood), who was also an excellent actor, played a menacing, mobbed-up fight promoter, and the great Jack Warden, who was once a pug in real life, played the King character’s ancient brother, who had once been a champion prizefighter.

If memory serves, the Lange character was married to tough-guy barkeep Cliff Gorman.


Robert De Niro pissed away his career playing one loser after another, particularly in movies directed by his idiot friend, Martin Scorsese. This one—directed by one of Scorcese’s erstwhile producers, Irwin Winkler—is pretty good. It has excellent ambience.

I remember one line from it—the desperate De Niro character, Harry Fabian, is on the phone. A guy he’s hitting up for money tells him, “No can do.” Fabian responds, “No can do? What's that, a Chinese appetizer?”

[Full disclosure: I had to look up the final line.]

De Niro played too many pathetic losers and otherwise unsympathetic characters, and not enough heroes. (Maybe that's why he made so many bombs. New York, New York. The King of Comedy. Night and the City. This Boy's Life. Falling in Love. Night and the City.) Loser roles are for character actors. Richard Widmark was a great actor, may he rest in peace, but you didn’t see him stick with Tommy Udos and Harry Fabians, did you?

It was almost impossible to find good images from the remake. The jackwagons at alamy slapped their stupid name all over most of the clear images, as if they owned the copyright. Since they don’t, they are probably guilty of copyright infringement.

I was also unable to find a single good poster from the remake.



David In TN said...

I once saw an A&E Biography episode on Richard Widmark in which he told of moving from Tommy Udo types starting with Halls of Montezuma (1950), in which he played a heroic Marine officer. This was followed by The Frogmen, Red Skies of Montana, and Hell and High Water (a favorite of mine).

Twentieth Century Fox also thought this change was a good idea.

Brian Brandt said...

Gene Tierney "the most beautiful woman in the history of the movies." More beautiful than Hedy Lamarr? Don't think so.

David In TN said...

A Texas oil man named W. Howard Lee evidently thought so.

David In TN said...

The TCM Film Noir of the Week for Sunday, November 26, at 10 am ET is Strangers on a Train (1951). Alfred Hitchcock was the director. Robert Walker and Farley Granger star as, respectively, a psychopath and a tennis player who meet on a train and talk about murdering someone they don't like. In other words, "swap murders."

Granger's character thinks it wasn't serious. Walker's does, and he promptly murders Granger's estranged (pregnant by another man) wife, who Granger had been seen in public having a violent argument with.

Granger was hoping to marry Ruth Roman, daughter of a U.S. Senator. He hoped it could be a springboard for a political carer of his own.

Hitchcock makes Granger look like a selfish, unsympathetic character, with poor judgement. Not unusual for Hitchcock. In other films he tries to make the audience almost root for a killer.

Strangers on a Train has a spectacular climax on a wild merry-go-round, Walker, who makes a convincing psycho, died at age 32, shortly after the film's release.

David In TN said...

TCM's Film Noir of the Week Saturday Night-Sunday Morning at 12:30 amd 10 am ET is Jules Dassin's Night and the City (1950) with Richard Widmark and Gene Tierney.

David In TN: Eddie Muller is recycling again. Your analysis above from 2017 says everything needed to be said about Night and the City, both versions.

To repeat my own opinion, Richard Widmark wisely moved to playing heroic characters instead of losers.