There are 8 Million Stories in the Naked City. This is the one that started it all. And what a start it was. While "The Naked City" is considered "Film-Noir" by many who have seen it, in truth it is simply a routine detective story. What makes the film as great as it is(and it is a great film)is the Oscar winning photography by William Daniels who shot the film not in a studio but on the streets and in the buildings of "The Naked City", New York City.
From the very opening of the film when Producer-Narrator Mark Hellinger introduces himself and tells you that this film "is quite different from anything you've ever seen", the viewer is hooked. And it is not by the story but by the city.
Hellinger's cast did not consist of any major players. Barry Fitzgerald, stars as Lieutenant Muldoon, the head of the Homicide Squad, Don Taylor is Jimmy Halloran, Muldoon"s "leg work" man. Howard Duff is the slimy Niles and Dorothy Hart, a beautiful actress who should have gone on to bigger and better things, was a model. They were all perfect. Ted De Corsia in his first screen role, played Willie Garzah the killer. His death scene at the top of the Williamsburg Bridge is memorable. He nearly steals the picture but not from the actors, but from the city who is the real "star" of the film.
Hellinger was formerly a New York Newspaper man. He started his Hollywood career as a screenwriter and among his successes was the 1939 Bogart-Cagney classic, "The Roaring Twenties" another film about New York. The city was very personal to him.
The sad part of the film is the tragedy of some of the major participants. Hellinger died of a heart attach shortly after the release. He was only 44.
Albert Maltz who co-wrote the screenplay was blacklisted as being one of the Hollywood 10, and didn't work for decades. Jules Dassin the director fled to Europe because of threats of blacklisting. He later made the classic "Rififi" and Oscar winners, "Topkapi" and "Never On Sunday". We can only wonder what might have been had this association continued.
What we do know is that "The Naked City" still lives on. You can see it in nearly every episode of the TV his "Law & Order". And as long as those skyscrapers of New York stand, there will always be a "Naked City"
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