Review

  • Can film noir work in broad daylight - surely a contradiction in terms..? Well, here, it's attempted and largely pulled off by director Jules Dassin with a down-to-earth almost documentary realism which fully involves the viewer in the action as the well-known tag-line "1 of 8,000,000 stories" (the murder of a pretty female immigrant who's fallen into bad company and criminal habits) is played out over a three-day period in a sunny summery New York cityscape. William Daniels' excellent photography captures a city constantly on the move with its own citizens as accidental extras and actual locations as would-be film-sets. Just as effective is the natural vernacular dialogue with some great one-liners thrown in - none better than Barry Fitzgerald seemingly admiring the rear view of a retreating beautiful female suspect with the remark to a junior colleague "Beautiful long legs she has, wouldn't you say?" to which the underling readily concurs only for old pro Fitzgerald to snap "Keep them in sight for the next 48 hours!" detailing a tail on her. There's also another great scene where the murdered girl's mother berates to all and sundry her dead daughter for her reckless lifestyle and bringing of shame onto her family right up until she is taken to identify the corpse where she breaks down uncontrollably, her maternal feelings restored. The murder tale is slightly convoluted but reasonably easy to follow, no contrived clever-clever plotting here, just an everyday relatively uncomplicated murder, solved by routine police work which makes the headlines due to the beauty of the victim. There's close attention paid to forensics and even the insertion of scenes where perennial sad hoaxers come forward to either claim to solve the murder or even confess to it. The acting is mostly good, Fitzgerald is dapper and spot-on as the world-weary 'tec and his supporting officers all acquit themselves well too. The playing however of some of the criminals gets a little overwrought at times and jars the mood slightly. The film arrives at a reasonably exciting conclusion high above Williamsburg Bridge before the city goes back to sleep awaiting its next story... All done and dusted in 90 very watchable minutes, this is a very entertaining film-blanc I suppose you'd have to call it.