Review: Night and the City


The Night and the City is a film from one of film noir’s greatest directors, Jules Dassin. Dassin was a target of the Communist hunt in Hollywood and was sent to London to start filming this film to get him out of the country. This was his last Hollywood film for years after being put on the blacklist. He left for France where he made a few more classic films, before his return to Hollywood.

There is two versions of this film, one is a shorter American version and a longer British edit. I watched the shorter American cut, which seems to be Dassin’s preferred version because of it’s tighter edit and more clear dialog.

This film stars Richard Widmark and his signature laugh. He plays a street hustler in London, using anybody and everybody he meets for money or a way to get ahead. The film starts with Widmark’s Harry Fabian running at night through the city as somebody chases him. He runs to an apartment building, and seems to have lost all the stress he was just under. He enters the apartment and soon is riffling through a purse looking for money. Mary played by Gene Tierney is seen coming out of the shadows. Mary and Harry are a couple and Mary is tired of his hustling. She gets him the money Harry owes the man chasing him and Harry is free to start his next hustle.


Harry gives us a tour through the underworld of London and we meet a number of con men, hustlers and shady business owners. Harry uses a number of these people to get ahead on his latest ploy. Googie Withers and Francis L. Sullivan play a dysfunctional wed couple that will cross each other for love and hate. Harry’s latest scheme involves starting his own pro wrestling promotion. Herbert Lom plays the current wrestling promoter in London and will do whatever he needs to eliminate the competition.

This is pretty unique in we get wrestling instead of boxing as our noir sport of choice. This seems to mirror how wrestling territories where back in this time, as well as showing the move from traditional wrestling to the entertainment wrestling we have today. Ex-pro wrestler Stanislaus Zbyszko plays the old guard, wanting to keep the art of traditional pro wrestling alive. Unfortunately this was the only screen appearance by Zbyszko, who is great in this film. Zbyszko in real life echoed his on screen character.

Mike Mazurki was also a pro wrestler and plays The Strangler. The Strangler is the big draw in London and is part of the new guard of entertaining wrestlers Zbyszko’s character thinks is destroying the art of wrestling. Mazurki moved from wrestling to the movies and was one of the first actors to be type cast as the heavy or thug and had a film career that lasted over 50 years.


The inevitable wrestling match in this film is amazing. The scene lasts over 4 minutes and is one of the best fight scenes in film noir. This is a very complex film with may reasons to view it. It has one of the most brutal and heart wrenching ending in classic film noir.

This film is based on the book by the same name written by Gerald Kersh. This book was originally published in 1938 and was kicked around for years in Hollywood. A lot of this had to do with timing, the book is very dark and shows crime in a very different way then audiences were used too. Thanks to a long run of film noir, Hollywood decided the public was ready. I have not read the book, but from my little research, it appears the movie varies from the source material for a number of reasons.


This film was also remade in 1992 starring Robert De Niro and Jessica Lange.

I loved this film and think it is required viewing for any film noir fan, classic movie fan and I feel pro-wrestling fans or those that would like to learn more about pro-wrestling will enjoy this as well.



Book Review: Warren Lane by Andrew Diamond


Andrew Diamond was kind enough to send me a copy of his new book Warren Lane. I was impressed he took the time to send a hand written note and signed my copy, a nice touch I appreciated.

Warren Lane is a name of a character in the book, but not the main character. This book’s plot is a series of miscommunication, mistaken identity, and bad luck.

The story revolves around a handful of characters. The first is Ready, a drunk that has been getting by with his good looks, something he isn’t comfortable with. For all his flaws, Ready is a lovable character we root for through out. Ella is a beautiful model who gets involved with a rich, older, married man. William is the rich, older, married man Ella makes happy. William is the character I most rooted against in this tale.  Susan is William’s wife and thinks he is cheating on her. Susan hires a private investigator named Warren Lane to find out if William is cheating or not.

The story has these characters crossing each other’s paths while they all try and find their way through life. This book is for fans of Elmore Leonard stories and Coen Brother’s movies.  It is a mix of black comedy and noir crime with an improbable chain of events.

This is Andrew Diamond’s first book and it sounds like he is already in the process of writing a second book that will be darker and more in the vein of Jim Thompson or Ross Macdonald. This is a very good book for a first work and I look forward to reading his second effort.

Grab a copy if you are looking for a fun read from a new author. This story will take you on an enjoyable ride worth the price of admission.

Article: ‘Heat’ at 20: Michael Mann on Making a Crime-Drama Classic



Here is a great write up on Heat by Jennifer Wood over at Rolling Stone. This is a look at how the film was made and how it became a classic.

Everything Noir also looked at Heat for its 20 year anniversary here:


News: ‘Synchronicity’ Trailer: A Genre-Bending, Time-Traveling Sci-Fi Noir


“‘Sci-fi Noir’ in the tradition of Dark City, Blade Runner,” well that is enough to get me intrigued by this new film coming out next month. Synchoronicity sounds like a film worth checking out. Check out the trailer here:

Also read the review over at Slash Films here:

Review: The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond


From director Budd Boetticher in 1960 comes the story of real life gangster Legs Diamond. This film is a mix of fact and fiction of the legendary mobster. Legs was an Irish American who was born in Philadelphia. He was known to be a great dancer, hence the nick name Legs. He also had been shot numerous times over the years only to live to tell the tale. He may have also got the Legs nickname for being able to outrun assassination attempts. He was a womanizer and willing to do whatever it took to get ahead.


This film covers all the highlights talked about above about Legs. Legs is played by Ray Danton for this film. It opens with Legs and his sickly brother played by Warren Oates getting caught in a drive-by shooting. This gives Legs the idea to steal a necklace out of a jewelry store near the shooting. He quickly picks up a dance instructor played by Karen Steele to be his alibi. He takes her to a movie and excuses himself. While he is out he uses the theater’s skylight to get into the store and steal the necklace. This opening shows Legs and his brother as small time crooks who are just trying to get by.


Legs goes to jail, but convinces the dance instructor to get him out by marrying him and traveling as a dance duo. Legs soon sees Gangster Arnold Rothstein and does everything he can to get into his inner circle. From here Legs uses his cunning, toughness and brutality to get to the top of the mob world. Will he get to the top? Will somebody take him down? Will Legs ever be happy?


Legs makes for a unlikable lead character with little to no redeemable qualities. With all this said we still root for him through out the film. A decent anti-hero that most will enjoy watching.

This film rode the coattails of other true crime drama’s about gangster that became popular in the early 1960’s. The Untouchables television series may have been the catalyst for this explosion of popularity. Legs did appear as a a character on that series as well as the television series The Lawless Years. This film was also adapted for Broadway in the late 1980’s.

Film noir buffs will enjoy this film as well as Mobster history fans. It is well directed and well acted, though we have seen this basic plot line many times in pre-noir gangster films, I guess it is true that history repeats itself.



Article: A Not-So-Golden State The detective stories of Ross Macdonald


Andrew J. Bacevich has written an interesting and informative article on Ross Macdonald and his character Lew Archer over at The Baffler.  Ross Macdonald was born 100 years ago today! Take the time to read Bacevich’s article on the history of Ross Macdonald and the parallels between the writer and the character, Lew Archer, you won’t be disappointed.  Read the full article here:

Review: The Detective


The Detective is a neo-noir from 1968 starring Frank Sinatra. This film is based on a book by Roderick Thorp by the same name. The book is the first book by Thorp based on his P.I. character Joe Leland. In this film the character Joe Leland is changed from a private investigator to a New York Police Detective. This book isn’t as popular as Thorp’s second Joe Leland book,  Nothing Lasts Forever. Nothing Lasts Forever was also adapted for the big screen. In this film, the Joe Leland character is also changed from a P.I. to a Police Detective, but his name was also changed from Joe Leland to Officer John McClane. Yup, Nothing Lasts Forever was adapted to a little film called Die Hard.


So…in the literary world Die Hard is a sequel to The Detective…and Frank Sinatra played a younger version of Bruce Willis’ John McClane or Willis played an older version of Sinatra’s Joe Leland? I have not read either of these books, and find the movies have very little to nothing in common, but find this knowledge fascinating.

The Detective was directed by Gordon Douglas, due to Sinatra’s request. The film revolves around Sinatra’s Joe Leland who is a hardboiled detective and is at the top of his game. Leland is a bit displaced as he seems to be a detective stuck in the 1950’s and sometimes comes across as a man who doesn’t fit in to the late 1960’s changing world. When confronted with drugs, open relationships, and homosexuals, you get the feeling he wishes he was back in simpler times, when this stuff was not openly paraded in front of his face.


The film starts out with a prominent businessman’s son found dead and Leland is brought to the crime scene. The son is brutally murdered by somebody and the police force is under pressure to find the killer fast. The film then flashes back to Leland remembering how he meet his wife, played by Lee Remick. This flashback shows his wife as a damaged soul that is self destructive.  When we return to the present, Leland helps solve the case and sees his suspect go to the electric chair. He also gets a promotion due to this case, but did he send the wrong guy to death?


As the film continues Leland is approached for help from Norma MacIver played by Jacqueline Bisset. Her husband has committed suicide, but Norma doesn’t think this is the whole picture. Is this second case tied to the first? Is it just part of a bigger conspiracy?


Look for Robert Duvall and Jack Klugman in small roles as police detectives.

This may not be Sinatra’s best work, but it is an intriguing film that is well worth watching for Sinatra fans. This film is a good bridge for the classic film noir of the late 1950’s to the classic neo noir’s to come in the 1970’s.


Favorite Tidbit: At the time of this film Sinatra was married to Mia Farrow who was filming the now classic Rosemary’s Baby. Farrow was scheduled to play the role that eventually went to Jacqueline Bisset. When Rosemary’s Baby went over schedule, Sinatra tried to get Farrow pulled from the production. When Farrow was not pulled from the production and did not make it to the filming of The Detective, Sinatra sent her divorce papers to the set of Rosemary’s Baby.


Article: The Femme Fatale, Gloria Grahame’s not-so-wonderful life.


One of classic film noir fan’s favorite Femme Fatales had a bit of a noir like personal life. Karina Longworth has written an intriguing article about the life of Gloria Grahame. It is well worth your time to read the entire article here:

Article: Jim Thompson wrote ‘hard-boiled existential noir’


Jim Thompson is one of the greatest noir writers of all time. If you have not enjoyed his books, you have certainly enjoyed some the films based on his writing.

William W. Savage, Jr. has written a nice article about the man and his books. Check out the full article over at here: