Monday, February 24, 2014

Interesting Take on One of The Greatest Noirs

Richard Widmark as Harry Fabian from Night and the City

Harry Fabian from Night and the City: Friend or Foe?

Richard Widmark as Harry Fabian from Night and the City: would you befriend this guy?
About my relationships with fake people:
I have good friends and bad friends.  And worse friends.   They fill different needs in my life – people to encourage me, people I’m glad to know but even gladder not to be, and people I end up not liking whatsoever.   These are all people I have some connection to, something in common with, even when they do something I would never do.  
When I watch crime, noir, or thriller movies, I often wonder if I would have found myself in the same situation as the protagonist.  Would I have made the same decisions—usually mistakes—as the protagonist?  Would I have believed the charismatic villain?  How much of a patsy am I?  Would this guy have been my friend?
Examine Harry Fabian in Jules Dassin’s 1950 noir, Night and the City, (based on novel by Gerald Kersh) played by Richard Widmark.  Here’s a guy who cheats and lies and steals. He hurts everyone around him. But he’s trying, always trying, even if it means failure.  And it always, always does.  There are hundreds of things I never follow through on for fear of failure, or a belief that it’s too complicated to pull off.  I have stacks of bar napkins with really good, beer-fueled ideas, but I do nothing with them.  Harry doesn’t have the same laziness.  Instead he’s mostly all talk, aggressively so. 
But dammit, I like the guy.  Here’s someone that exists among the scum of the city.  His cohorts are low-class swindlers, forgers, and frauds.  His enemies are well-groomed, powerful men with crisp British accents and sinister names like Kristo and Fergus Chilk.  And Fergus Chilk is just the bad guy’s lawyer!  But he never judges any of these people—not even the ones trying to kill him. Harry may act irresponsibly and rashly, but he’s always keenly aware of what the responsibilities of failure are.  And that’s pretty honorable, I have to say.   
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