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Saturday, April 24, 2004

Dassin double feature excellent, though not in a way that makes me want to see Never On A Sunday next weekend. Most of what I might say seems dutiful, forced. Barry Fitzgerald masterfully ingratiating in The Naked City, terrific Stieglitzy bridge photography, brief scene where detective stops for a root beer on a corner on the Lower East Side, served in one of those cone-and-cup set-ups that's disappeared from everywhere I know of but The Apple Pan, sidelong moment where society lady says of her jewelry "...It's a fixation." Skimpy attire of cop's wife makes you feel that you're seeing something you're not supposed to; is that what they used to call a sunsuit? Didn't know there were still icemen and horse-drawn delivery carriages anywhere in New York in the mid-'40s; wouldn't know it from normal studio movies. With such dogged pursuit of naturalism, why the heavy-gauge reaction 'takes' every time someone hears there's been a murder.

Night and the City something of a revelation, claustrophobic and gorgeous, everyone terrific except maybe Gene Tierney, who doesn't have much to do. Widmark and Googie Withers nail it; makes me want to see the former in Roadhouse again. Also, inventively plotted, which is something I almost never notice; maybe because it's rarely the case. Is it commonplace to pair this w/ The Sweet Smell Of Success, which it equals and possibly tops in cynicism? There are possibly about 4 lines too many of comment on Widmark's character flaws ("No one works harder than you...but always on the wrong things."), but what's effective is his own pathetic assessment of what he almost 'achieved' ("I could have controlled wrestling -- in all of London," spoken as though he'd just bought Andromeda). Wonder if the crooked beggar-chief was someone's reference to Peachum in Threepenny. Not that I minded, but why is the wrestling scene so long, and so much brighter than the rest of the movie?

Picked up piece of paper in crosswalk after movie, courting serendipity; flyer for reading by...David Lehman.

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