Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Night and the City continued

I was speaking with Ben (@dissolvedpet) of the new podcast Cinecultania on Twitter last night a little further about my review of Night and the City. He said perhaps I should have delved a bit deeper into the role of professional wrestling in a film noir as opposed to focusing as much as I did on the look of the film itself.

I will be the first to admit that my knowledge of film noir is near-zero. I know what it is technically, but just haven't seen enough to work it all out for myself. Hence the newbish noir review I suppose.

But further on this, I would have moved more into the role of wrestling in the film had it actually played a bigger part. The wrestling that was there, but as I said to Ben last night, I felt as though the story could have been the same regardless of the sport involved. Harry Fabian is the main focus, and his constant running from something as a result of his shady practices, and wrestling works here because of its history of being a little shady itself, and the face that it was a sport for adults at this time. But any sport in which individuals are the focus I believe could have worked in this story.

Which brings me to the comment left on my generic review by Samuel Wilson, who writes a fine film blog called mondo 70. Samuel mentioned a remake of Night and the City with Robert DeNiro. Honestly, my ignorant ass didn't even realize there was a remake, even though I read up on the original!

Anyway, in the remake, DeNiro plays Harry Fabian who is now a lawyer instead of just a con-man, and the sport has been changed to boxing as opposed to wrestling. The short wikipedia entry for the film says that the sport was changed to boxing because by that time wrestling had become marketed more for children instead of adults. I have obviously not seen this version, but this kind of shows I think that the sport could indeed be changed.

In his comment, Samuel also mentions Mike Mazurki who played the pro-wrestler The Strangler. I was being a bit lazy in only mentioning a couple actors (there were other strong smaller roles as well... I really wanted to mention the ones that stood out for me personally), and I didn't want my review to go on and on, but Mike Mazurki's role is worth mentioning. He is interesting in that he was a pro wrestler (as well as participating in other sports) who became an actor and actually had a successful career playing bit parts in tons of films from the 40s and 50s and into the 90s. He had a great look in the film and played a nice counter to Gregorious' pure approach to the sport. The Strangler was a hothead professional wrestler who looked down on the older Greco-Roman style. The fight that he has with Gregorious is really great as you can see the two styles at the same time blending as well as conflicting.

I wish the film had gone a little deeper into the old school vs. new school of wrestling conflict, but I realize that is the wrasslin fan in me speaking. The film is a great work.

So chalk my review up to both lack of noir experience on my part and a wish that there was just more wrestling involved.

Thank you both Samuel and Ben for the added discussion on it!


Samuel Wilson said...

You're welcome, sir. I used to be a pro wrestling fan and I'm still interested by the history of the business, so I'm really enjoying your theme here lately.

pickleloaf said...

Cool glad you're enjoying it! I wish I hadn't drawn it all out for as long as i have, but it is what it is. Thanks again