Night and the City (1992)

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Released 10-Aug-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama None
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1992
Running Time 99:43
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Irwin Winkler
Studio
Distributor
Penta Pictures
MRA Entertainment
Starring Robert De Niro
Jessica Lange
Cliff Gorman
Alan King
Jack Warden
Eli Wallach
Barry Primus
Gene Kirkwood
Ignazio Spalla
David W. Butler
Gerard Murphy
Clem Caserta
Anthony Canarozzi
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $19.95 Music James Newton Howard
Dennis Matkosky


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Pan & Scan English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

After the success of his Oscar nominated role of Max Cady in Martin Scorsese’s remake of Cape Fear in 1991, actor Robert De Niro starred in the remake of another classic film in Night and the City, which was directed by Irwin Winkler.

Winkler had previously directed De Niro in Guilty By Suspicion in 1991 and Winkler had previously produced New York, New York in 1977 and Raging Bull in 1980, both starring De Niro and directed by Scorsese. Despite the previous successful collaborations with Winkler as a producer, the Winkler directed films Night and the City and Guilty By Suspicion received little praise from critics on release.

Attempting to remake a classic film only leaves two options; either update and improve on the existent material or make a film which is redundant, which fails in comparison to the original. Examples of the latter category include Gus Van Sant's attempt at Psycho, the unnecessary remake of Get Carter starring Sylvester Stallone in Michael Caine’s role and also the recent remake of Alfie starring Jude Law in the classic Caine role.

A successful remake is incredibly rare. Technological improvement on an original concept is defined as a success these days - for example, without the technological advancements of CGI and Special FX, films such as John Carpenter's The Thing (1982) and David Cronenberg’s The Fly (1986) and Peter Jackson’s King Kong (2005) would not be critical darlings. However, at the heart of a remake there needs to be a successful adaptation of the plot. (Notice the three mentioned "successful" remake films stay relatively close to the source material).

Winkler’s version of The Night and the City sits between these two remake extremes as it seems redundant in comparison to the original classic film noir, but as a standalone film it contains some amusing characterisations, although ultimately it is devoid of purpose or the dark ambience of the original which was directed by Jules Dassin.

The original plot centres on the pathetic character of Harry Fabian, a low life dreamer whose ambition is to get rich quick. With his endless enthusiasm and innocence he cons those around him and through his deception he becomes everything he loathes. What was unique to Dassin’s film was its post World War Two setting of London. The depressive starkness of London is shown to be both a fantastical nightmare and a realistic oppressive environment. The characters who roamed Fabian’s world were ambiguous, while he knew exactly who he was and was unable to escape his demons.

The remake instantly removed the cruelty of the city by transporting the plot to early 1990s New York City. In the updated plot Harry Fabian (Robert De Niro) in an attempt to gain respect and financial stability turns to the tainted world of boxing. Using his fast talking skills as an immoral lawyer he finds himself caught in his own trap. He is surrounded cheaters and hoodlums and despite his naivety he assumes he can control the chaos as he is ‘The Great Pretender’. Despite being set in the grit and grim of the New York underbelly filled with crime figures and pitiful losers, the city isn’t shown to be a place of broken dreams akin to the original. Winkler’s direction is mostly point of view and hand-held Steadicam which lends immediacy to the plot but also seems underdeveloped in contrast to the rest of the film's photography. Also, despite the modern setting, the soundtrack is filled with popular songs of the 50s and 60s. It seems the remake is honouring its origins yet it is unable to remain original and significant.

Robert De Niro channels his obnoxious Rupert Pupkin characterisation from The King of Comedy (1983), one of his most intriguing yet underrated roles. De Niro’s wired Harry Fabian shares Pupkin’s eternal enthusiasm without dangerous self-loathing. De Niro makes the most of the doomed character but the audience cares little for his strife due to his gullibility. In affect Fabian is a depressing character because he is doomed from the beginning. De Niro plays the part subdued and without extravagance - it is an interesting performance in comparison to some of the overt authoritative figures he has played previously but there is a lack of conviction to the character, perhaps due to mediocre direction from Irwin Winkler.

Nevertheless De Niro's effortless performance is aided by some wonderful characterisations such as Jessica Lange’s Helen Nasseros who is caught between admiration for Fabian and stability from her husband Phil Nasseros, played by a no-nonsense Cliff Gorman. Perhaps the most splendid performance is from Eli Wallach who plays Peck, a loan shark who actually cares for Fabian’s welfare.

Despite a great cast the film falls short and the impossible ending is a major disappointment. This film could have been many things but it doesn’t reach the height of the original. This is an engrossing film but nevertheless leaves the viewer disappointed due to a sense of insignificance. In the hands of another director perhaps it could have been something more.

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Transfer Quality

Video

A further disappointment is the sheer abysmal transfer of the film.

Night and the City is presented in a 1.33:1 Pan and Scan aspect ratio.

Telecine Wobble is evident over the opening credits.

The average bit-rate is 1.83 Mb/s; hence the picture is soft and suffers from profound MPEG artefacting. Witness the amount of Gibb Effect over the end credits as a result of the compression.

There is a lack of definition and black levels are poor.

The colour is decent, although at various points flesh tones seem intensified and unnatural.

The transfer suffers from limited film artefacts and shadows seemed blurred and undefined, especially at 18:42.

This is a disappointing transfer which takes away from the enjoyment of viewing the film.

There are no subtitles presented on this single-layered disc.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

The soundtrack presented on this disc is basic.

There are no major defects. It remains clear and concise throughout the course of the film.

The main theme of the film is “The Great Pretender” which is performed by The Platters. Freddy Mecury’s version of the song is also appropriately used. Other artists who appear on the soundtrack are Ray Charles, Stone Cherry, Aretha Franklin, Dean Martin and The Red Hot Chilli Peppers.

James Newton Howard and Dennis Matkosky’s original score is minimal and suited to the atmosphere of the film.

The basic soundtrack makes minimal use of the surrounds as expected. The subwoofer is barely used.

There is only the English soundtrack present of this disc.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

The main menu is static and minimal with no soundtrack.

Despite the cover stating a theatrical trailer is presented as an extra feature, it is non existent on the disc.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

This title is not available in Region 1

Summary

Night and the City features De Niro in an underrated performance and supported by a great cast. Unfortunately, the film fails to reach the significance and purpose of the original.

The video is abysmal.

The audio is standard.

The extras are non existent.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Vanessa Appassamy (Biography)
Thursday, January 12, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-1910, using DVI output
DisplayPanasonic PT-AE 700. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationYamaha DSP-A595a - 5.1 DTS
Speakers(Front) DB Dynamics Polaris AC688F loudspeakers,(Centre) DB Dynamics Polaris Mk3 Model CC030,(Rear) Polaris Mk3 Model SSD425,(Subwoofer) Jensen JPS12

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