Gun-less Noir

Gene Tierney may be on the poster, but she doesn't do much.
A lot of people have written about Jules Dassin's Night and the City (1950). It's about the most noir film noir I've ever seen. I was amazed at the look of it, the world of shadows and fear, claustrophobia and betrayal, greed and ruin. Richard Widmark carries the thing. Gene Tierney, who is featured on the poster, doesn't do much at all. It was a Twentieth Century-Fox film made in England with a central core of American actors and several excellent British actors. Actress Googie Withers is a stand-out. She is despicable throughout and loses in the end. Richard Widmark is despicable and loses in the end. Herbert Lom is somewhat less despicable, and he wins in the end. And the whole thing is done without gunplay. Can you imagine a gun-less film noir? What was it that Godard said about a girl and a gun? "All you need to make a movie is a girl and a gun." Dissan only needs darkness, shadow, a few bright actors, and a brilliant film score. There is not a dame anywhere with a .25 caliber Baby Colt in her purse. There are no war-weary veterans with huge .45 Autos under their belts. There are no mobsters with Lugers. There are no coppers with .38 Specials. There isn't even a nickel-plated .32 semiauto in a drawer. Just light and shadow, fists and one knife. And the city of London. At night. The Criterion Collection release is gorgeous and features some interesting commentary by Glenn Erikson. Rent it. Buy it. See it.
Googie Withers with Francis L. Sullivan in the background.
Widmark in the shadows.
Widmark as the doomed hustler.
Googie Withers with an odd face for film but all the right moves.
Googie Withers blows smoke in Richard Widmark's face.
Googie Withers with knotted pearls.

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