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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

directed by Jules Dassin
UK 1950

Adapted from the lowlife novel by Gerald Kersh, Night and the City is a baroque masterpiece of corruption, paranoia and doom that ranks among the true works of art in the film noir genre. Produced by Twentieth Century Fox, yet employing American, British and Continental personnel and filmed on the streets of London, it was directed by Jules Dassin, under suspicion in Hollywood for his political beliefs, who made it at great speed before he was blacklisted.

Much of the filming was done in actual after-midnight hours, shooting night scenes in a London still shattered and skeletal from wartime bombings. Soho, Piccadilly and the Festival of Britain construction site on the South Bank were all locations.

Richard Widmark delivers an indelible performance as Harry Fabian, a small-time American nightclub tout and desperate dreamer who tries to worm his way into the wrestling rackets of post-war London. In his path lie the formidable obstacles posed by a vengeful club owner Phil Nosseross (Francis L Sullivan) and the racketeer Kristo (Herbert Lom). The club owner's sultry wife (Googie Withers) schemes with him, and a long-suffering girlfriend (Gene Tierney) does her best to save Harry from himself. Like many a noir hero before him, Harry thinks he can outrun his fate. He's wrong.

***

Deep within the bowels of shadow-infested London, two-bit hustler Harry Fabian (Richard Widmark) struggles to live a life of ease and plenty. Trailed by an inglorious history of go-nowhere schemes, Fabian stumbles upon a chance of a lifetime in the form of legendary wrestler Gregorius the Great (Stanislaus Zbyszko). But there is no easy money in this underworld of shifting alliances, bottomless graft, and sweaty, pummeled flesh and soon Fabian learns the horrible price of his overweening ambition. Night and the City is a crowning achievement of legendary director Jules Dassin and quintessential film noir.

Posters

Theatrical Release: April 1950 - UK

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Recommended Reading in Film Noir (CLICK COVERS or TITLES for more information)

Comparison:

 

Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC vs. BFI - Region 2 - PAL vs. Pretty Gold Productions - Region FREE - Blu-ray vs. Criterion Collection  Region 'A' - Blu-ray

1) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC LEFT
2) BFI - Region 2 - PAL SECOND

3) Pretty Gold - Region FREE - Blu-ray THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray RIGHT

 

Box Cover

  

Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 274 - Region 1- NTSC BFI - Region 2 - PAL

Pretty Gold

Region FREE  - Blu-ray

Criterion Collection - Spine #274 - Region 'A' Blu-ray

Runtime 1:35:36 1:31:39 (4% PAL speedup) 1:35:36.272 1:35:50.745
Video 1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.47mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 8.10 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.33:1 1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 22,670,752,777 bytes

Feature: 22,663,993,344 bytes

Video Bitrate: 25.49 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

1080P / 23.976 fps Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 47,424,327,502 bytes

Feature: 22,658,537,472 bytes

Video Bitrate: 27.49 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Criterion

Bitrate:

BFI

Bitrate: Pretty Gold

Blu-ray

Bitrate Criterion:

Blu-ray

Bitrate Criterion Alternate British version:

Blu-ray

Audio English (Dolby Digital 1.0)  English (Dolby Digital 1.0)

LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit

DUB:

LPCM Audio German 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit

LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

Subtitles English, None English, None None English (SDH), None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion Collection

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Audio commentary by Glenn Erickson, author of the Film Noir Reader essay on Night and the City
• Video interview with director Jules Dassin
• Excerpts from a 1972 French interview with Dassin

  "Two Scores" - a 2nd version of the film. Chris Husted
• New essay by film critic Paul Arthur
• Original theatrical trailer

• Liner notes by Paul Arthur

DVD Release Date: February 1st, 2005

Keep Case
Chapters: 25

Release Information:
Studio: BFI Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.33:1

 

Edition Details:

• Audio commentary by Paul Duncan, co-author of Film Noir
• Video interview with director Jules Dassin
• Excerpts from a 1972 French interview with Dassin

•  Featurette: "Two Versions - Two Scores"

• 18-page liner notes booklet with essay by Lee Server


DVD Release Date: October 15th, 2007

Transparent Keep Case
Chapters: 14

Release Information:
Studio: Pretty Gold Productions
 

1.33:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 22,670,752,777 bytes

Feature: 22,663,993,344 bytes

Video Bitrate: 25.49 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

• None

Blu-ray Release Date: November 22nd, 2013
Standard
Blu-ray Case
Chapters: 12

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

1080P / 23.976 fps Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 47,424,327,502 bytes

Feature: 22,658,537,472 bytes

Video Bitrate: 27.49 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Edition Details:

Alternate presentation of the 101-minute British version of the film:

1080P / 23.976 fps

Feature: 14,448,390,144 bytes

Video Bitrate: 18.02 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / no subtitles / 1:40:46.582 / 24 Chapters


Audio commentary from 2005 with film scholar Glenn Erickson
Interview with director Jules Dassin from 2005 (17:52)
Excerpts from a 1972 television interview with Dassin (25:26)
Comparison of the scores for the British and American versions of the film by Chris Huston (22:55)
Trailer (2:22)
PLUS: An essay by film scholar Paul Arthur

Blu-ray Release Date: August 4th, 2015
Transparent Keep case

Chapters: 24

 

 

 

Comments:

NOTE: These Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

 

ADDITION: Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray July 15': The Criterion 1080P is from a 4K digital restoration and it identifies the Pretty Gold as being horizontally stretched. The screen captures show the Criterion as brighter, cleaner,  a shade cropped and it is significantly smoother in-motion with a marginally higher bitrate than its German counterpart. Now, I do like the darker look of the Pretty Gold but, in comparison, the stretching is more noticeable now and, a bit, distracting.

 

Criterion go very authentic with the audio in an uncompressed linear PCM in original mono. Waxman's score still pulsates through the film - elaborately in the final scenes. It sounds as good as the Pretty Gold - but maybe a bit more hollow. There are optional English subtitles on the region A'-locked Criterion Blu-ray.

 

Criterion really go the extra mile offering the 101-minute alternate presentation of the British version of the film. It is in 1080P / 23.976 fps but has a lesser bitrate (18.02 Mbps) - still quite watchable - and only Dolby Digital (lossy) mono audio. It has no subtitles option. It starts with the Certification card and has the more subtle Benjamin Frankel score. After director Jules Dassin was blacklisted in Hollywood while filming Night and the City in England, the film was assembled into two different edited and scored versions, one in London and one in Hollywood. Although Dassin was present for neither editing session he preferred the The American release, but it is fascinating to actually see the UK version... and in 1080P. Criterion keep the excellent audio commentary from 2005 with film scholar Glenn Erickson (only for US version), excerpts from a 1972 television interview with Dassin, trailer and liner notes with an essay by film scholar Paul Arthur. Criterion augment their new Blu-ray with a 17-minute interview with director Jules Dassin from 2005 where the director is very frank making an interesting declaration. Also repeated, but making a more useful supplement is the comparison of the scores for the British and American versions of the film by Chris Huston who also goes in detail about the difference of the versions (and how the scores and subtle editing effected the versions).

 

Absolute must own Blu-ray - the British edition is very different in tone and well worth watching and the Criterion is one of the packages of the year for me. Pure Noir beauty, and I love the cover!

 

NOTE: Unfortunately, it is not offered in current Barnes and Noble's current 50% OFF sale , but there is a pre-order discount (30%) at Amazon.

 

***

ADDITION: Pretty Gold - Region FREE - Blu-ray (August 14'): I don't know too much about "Pretty Gold Productions" (aka 'Intergroove') - we also reviewed their Pretty Poison Blu-ray, and this, also, definitely 1080p / 23.976 fps. It is competent - clean - plenty of grain textures - not as bright as the Criterion and not as dark as the BFI. There is some excessive grain at around the 1-hour mark with a bit of noise - but it was isolated to a minute or so. Contrast has some pleasing layers. DoP Mutz Greenbaum gives a clinic with the shadows in Night and the City. This aspect really benefits from the higher resolution. I liked the video - easily the best presentation of the three. What I noted as exceptionally appealing was the linear PCM audio - this is the US version with the Franz Waxman (Bride of Frankenstein, Rear Window, Sunset Boulevard) score. It sounds magical - Noir nirvana with the dramatic orchestrations. There are no subtitles but an optional German DUB and the disc is bare-bones with no supplements. It is region FREE! For me - this is irresistible; Richard Widmark, Gene Tierney, a 'dark cinema' mainstay and in 1080P? Easy decision.

***

 

ADDITION: BFI - Region - 2 - PAL (October 07'): Firstly, it was hoped that this would be the British version of the film but I understand the rights for that are tied up somewhere. It would have made a poignant companion to the Criterion US version. Both of these DVDs are the US version.

Surprisingly I feel the BFI dual-layered progressive image has a superior image (and feel) than the Criterion from 2005. This is only my opinion but I prefer the generally darker and sharper PAL edition in terms of image. Now it does exhibit more digital noise than the Criterion but I guess I am willing to acquiesce to that to see the DVD transfer that supports dark feel of the film more astutely (again my opinion). The BFI bitrate is higher.

In regards to framing - there is some movement and zooming but overall I feel the BFI shows a shade more information (in many scenes) mostly at the bottom of the frame. I don't find this significant but if I don't comment on it I get emails.

Audio is the same as far as my ears can tell - the 4% PAL speedup didn't seem to dramatically alter the pitch in my opinion.

In the supplements - both offer an excellent commentary - I wouldn't dare choose one over the other but I really enjoyed Paul Duncan's' very professional manner. Glenn Erickson's is also wonderful and it's nice they bring up different points (although a few are duplicated). This could be reason enough to own the BFI!  Both offer the same 1972 Dassin interview (excerpts) and 'Two Versions - Two Scores' featurette. Criterion go one step further with a 25 minute video interview with Dassin (another one). Both offer informative liner notes but between the two I might lean to BFI.

There you have it. If you love the film, as I, the BFI is worthy if only for another commentary but you may also feel that the PAL image is superior. Certainly the screen caps support them being sharper (or at least the perception of being sharper). This film is a true gem and I'm not unhappy to have both DVD editions and if I was going to re-watch would probably choose the BFI.    

***  

RE: the Criterion - I don't think the image quality is up to par with say Siodmak's The Killers or Fuller's Pick-up on South Street, two other strong Criterion noir DVDs from the same period, but it is very good nonetheless. Heavy contrast and a notch below on the sharpness scale (for Criterion that is!). At times it shows excessive grain. Big nod to Glenn Erickson's commentary - top notch stuff from a fellow DVD reviewer. Great extras, great packaging, great subtitles - hey it's Criterion!.. and we thank goodness for their existence everyday! out of     

Gary W. Tooze

 


Menus

 

(Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC LEFT vs. BFI - Region 2 - PAL RIGHT)

 

Pretty Gold - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 

 

Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 


Alt-British Version -Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray Title

 

 

1) US Version LEFT

2) Alt-British Version  RIGHT

 

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

Subtitle Sample

 

1) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC TOP
2) BFI - Region 2 - PAL SECOND

3) Pretty Gold - Region FREE - Blu-ray THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

Screen Captures

 

1) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC TOP
2) BFI - Region 2 - PAL SECOND

3) Pretty Gold - Region FREE - Blu-ray THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


 

1) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC TOP
2) BFI - Region 2 - PAL SECOND

3) Pretty Gold - Region FREE - Blu-ray THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


 

1) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC TOP
2) BFI - Region 2 - PAL SECOND

3) Pretty Gold - Region FREE - Blu-ray THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


 

1) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC TOP
2) BFI - Region 2 - PAL SECOND

3) Pretty Gold - Region FREE - Blu-ray THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC TOP
2) BFI - Region 2 - PAL SECOND

3) Pretty Gold - Region FREE - Blu-ray THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC TOP
2) BFI - Region 2 - PAL SECOND

3) Pretty Gold - Region FREE - Blu-ray THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Captures

1) Pretty Gold - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Pretty Gold - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Pretty Gold - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Pretty Gold - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Pretty Gold - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Pretty Gold - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Pretty Gold - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Pretty Gold - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Pretty Gold - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Pretty Gold - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Pretty Gold - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Pretty Gold - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


Recommended Reading in Film Noir (CLICK COVERS or TITLES for more information)

 

Box Cover

  

Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 274 - Region 1- NTSC BFI - Region 2 - PAL

Pretty Gold

Region FREE  - Blu-ray

Criterion Collection - Spine #274 - Region 'A' Blu-ray


 


 


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Gary Tooze