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Director Jules Dassin’s stunning run of films in the late ’40s and early ’50s—a list that includes Burt Lancaster’s finest hour (Brute Force), a corruption-on-the-docks tale that rivals On the Waterfront (Thieves’ Highway) and the model for the modern heist film (Rififi)—crystallized with his 1950 noir, Night and the City. As hustler Harry Fabian, Richard Widmark is a quintessential noir antihero, dressed to the nines but never for a second looking at ease in his well-tailored suits. Like Dassin’s New York-set drama, The Naked City, Night and the City gets a strong dose of realism from its location shots in London, but its real energy derives from the interior scenes featuring the wrestler that Fabian is banking on—every scrum is a metaphor for the warring instincts slugging it out in the desperate man’s head.
NIGHT AND THE CITY SHOWS tonight AT 7 P.M. AND on WEDNESDAY, NOV. 5, AT 9:15 P.M. AT THE AFI SILVER THEATRE AND CULTURAL CENTER, 8633 COLESVILLE road, SILVER SPRING. $10. (301) 495-6720.