I'm a big fan of early film noir - stylized films like Big Sleep, Double Indemnity, Out of the Past etc. with their femme fatales and flawed heroes. With the end of WWII came the return of many film-makers like Producer-Narrator Mark Hellinger who had experience in shooting documentaries with all their realism during the war. Starting with The Naked City, noir saw the impact of combat photography in location shootings and gritty realism.
The Naked City, as narrated at the outset by the producer, was shot on location in New York in the apparently scorching summer of 1947. There are lots of scenes shot with hidden cameras, passersby unaware that a film was being shot. That would've created a significant impact at a time when everything was shot on set - and heavily stylized. In the present age, when nearly all outdoor shooting is 'on location', the impact of Naked City diminishes significantly. The plot plods along, the acting is generally wooden, although Barry Fitzgerald gives an interesting if over-acted performance. A lot of the authentic police procedural is too tame and dated compared to what one normally see on TV today.
Apart from the groundbreaking decision to shoot on location, the only other selling point of the film is the chase in the last 15 minutes of the movie. That was the bulk of the films outdoor shooting and its great. Its suspenseful, well shot and the narration works great. It reminded me of the great M by Fritz Lang. For serious noir fans, The Naked City has to be seen once, but its not a film to be revisited repeatedly like some of the earlier classics of the genre.
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