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  • There are two styles of Film Noir. Fueled by writers like James M. Cain, Dashiell Hammett, and Raymond Chandler, the first style emerged in the 1940s and was characterized by a cynical, often witty tone; anti-heroes, dangerous women, and assorted criminal elements; and complex plots that emphasized betrayal and moral ambiguity. It was also photographed in a remarkable visual style that combined glossy production values with atmospheric emphasis on light and shadow--and films like THE MALTESE FALCON, THIS GUN FOR HIRE, MILDRED PIERCE, THE BLUE DAHLIA, and DOUBLE INDEMNITY remain great classics of their kind.

    But after World War II public taste began to change. Things that could only be hinted at in earlier films could now be more directly stated, and as audiences clamored for a more gritty realism the glossy sophistication of 1940s Noir fell out of fashion. The result was a new style of Noir--photographed in a grainier way, more direct, more brutal, and even less sympathetic to its characters. And the 1948 THE NAKED CITY was among the first to turn the tide. The sophisticated gumshoe, slinky gun moll, and glossy production values were gone; this film felt more like something you might read in a particularly lurid "true detective" tabloid.

    In an era when most films were shot on Hollywood backlots, THE NAKED CITY was actually filmed in New York--and while filmmakers could film with hidden cameras sound technology of the day posed a problem. But producer Mark Hellinger turned the problem into an asset: the film would be narrated, adding to the documentary-like style of the cinematography and story. (Hellinger performed the narrative himself, and his sharp delivery is extremely effective.) The story itself reads very much like a police report, following NYPD detectives as they seek to solve a dress model's murder.

    For 1948 it was innovative stuff-but like many innovative films it falters a bit in comparison to later films that improved upon the idea. The direct nature of the plot feels slightly too direct, slightly too simple. The same is true of the performances, which have a slightly flat feel, and although Barry Fitzgerald gives a sterling performance he is very much a Hollywood actor whose style seems slightly out of step alongside the deadpan style of the overall cast. Even so, the pace and drive of the film have tremendous interest, and while you might find yourself criticizing certain aspects you'll still be locked into the movie right to the very end. Particularly recommended for Film Noir addicts, who will be fascinated to see the turning point in the style.

    Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer
  • THE NAKED CITY is like watching a time capsule unfold of New York City in the late '40s--the cars, the subways, the bridges, the people bustling along busy streets totally unaware of filming (scenes were shot from cars with tinted windows and two-way mirrors), and at the center of it all is a rather routine detective story. But the difference is the style that director Jules Dassin gets out of his material, giving the drama a chance to build up the proper tension before the final shootout on city streets and bridges.

    BARRY FITZGERALD is the detective with the very helpful sidekick DON TAYLOR, a young police officer from Queens who helps him track down the man responsible for the death of a pretty blonde in what the tabloids called "The Bathtub Murder". Both men are excellent as they follow a batch of clues to get to the bottom of the crime. HOWARD DUFF is also excellent as a man mixed up in the robberies, with DOROTHY HART as his unsuspecting sweetheart.

    TED DeCORSIA, making his film debut, is the athletic villain, working out in his small apartment when detective Taylor finds him--but soon making his escape which leads to the film's most breathtaking moments of a dazzling chase that fills the last ten minutes with high tension suspense.

    The crime itself is not that interesting, but the style used to tell the tale (with a voice-over narration telling us at the conclusion that this is just one story in a city of millions) is what makes it far superior to most detective stories. That and the fact that New York City is given the spotlight for location photography that really hits the mark.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    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"
  • This film is in many ways a good example of Film Noir--since it portrays a murder and its investigation, has a classic Noir-style ending and has some very "dark" story elements. However, unlike traditional Film Noir, the dialog and lighting are much more like a traditional film--less snappy dialog and more of an emphasis on conventional police work. This is NOT really a bad thing, as the film still was very entertaining but with a lighter and almost documentary feel to it and with a greater emphasis on the police work instead of on the sleazy Noir villains. In fact, since the film focused on the police and the day to day aspects of the investigation, it helped to usher in a style of film making that would be very popular in the 1950s on TV and in theaters (such as the show DRAGNET or the movie HE WALKED BY NIGHT).

    The film itself stars Barry Fitzgerald. This is a VERY unusual casting decision but it did work very well. Normally, Fitzgerald is known for cute supporting roles, like the ones he played in GOING MY WAY and THE QUIET MAN. Here, however, he's a detective who coordinates the investigation. I liked it this way because he was far from the macho cop but more like a REAL policeman--experienced, smart and not about to resort to a fist fight with his foes--avoiding the usual movie clichés to say the least! In addition, the rest of the cast also seem more like real policemen when compared to other films of the time. The criminals, likewise, seem real and aren't obviously "bad" like they usually are in crime films--again a big plus.

    So overall, this is a very realistic and engaging crime film with elements of Noir but certainly NOT the traditional style for the genre (the familiar Noir dialog, lighting, film angles, femme fatales, etc. are missing because they wouldn't be appropriate). It may disappoint some die-hard Noir fans, but for me it was quite acceptable and a good change of pace.
  • That's just what the producer, Mark Hellinger does. He tries to make it clear from the introduction that this is not your average movie. It is not. This entire production tries to accomplish one thing - authenticity. And for the most part, it succeeds.

    Before I get to what's right about this movie, let me mention a few of the things that are wrong. Ted DeCorsia overacts. He always overacts. Howard Duff's character, Frankie Niles, is supposed to be a streetwise grifter. How the hell could he be dumb enough to get himself in as many pickles as he did. Anybody who has ever been around the block would know better than to lie to the cops about everything. Just lie about the important things and tell the truth when it won't hurt you. If this guy is a sociopath, he's the dumbest one in town. Although most of the accents are on the money, the incidental dialogue injected into some of the scenes sounds forced and phony. In fact, it sounds like Hollywood trying to sound like New York. Mark Hellinger's narration, by comparison, is not only authentic, it's practically Damon Runyonesque.

    Now - what's right. Practically everything else. The location photography is the New York I remember as a kid. While I was watching some of the hot summer scenes downtown, I could practically smell the asphalt, melting tar, and garbage. Don Taylor's brick duplex in Queens was just the kind of house that every struggling family on the wrong side of Brooklyn aspired to.

    I won't comment on the story except to say, it's an entirely believable crime story. I seem to remember Barry Fitzgerald playing a similar role in Union Station. Reminds one of the old days when most of the cops were Irish - and New York was really New York.
  • This is a real original and just about everybody involved knows it. A documentary style police drama with real New York locations -- "Nothing was shot in a studio!" And it does capture New York City, circa 1947, entering a late florescent age. Many of the shots were "stolen," taken on real streets from a van with tinted windows, with only the principal actors knowing that a movie was being made.

    White collar workers all wear suits and ties. There is a sidewalk salesman hawking neckties. An ice man with those over-sized calipers. A milkman driving a horse and wagon. A Kosher Deli. Little girls playing jump rope -- "Out goes the doctor, out goes the nurse, out goes the lady with the alligator purse." Kids on swings. People reading newspapers over someone else's shoulder while jolting along on the subway. A shootout on a tower of the Williamsberg Bridge. A blind man and his dog. Stillman's Gym with two professional wrestlers being coached in how to register pain. Two girls gawking at a wedding dress in a shop window and mooning over "Frankie." Ethnic people -- Italians, Irish, Jewish, Polish. Accents -- "A boxer-fighter maybe? What do I know?" "Eh, bene, bene -- encore." Scrubby walnut trees in brick-strewn vacant lots. Working class accents mostly, including that of the narrator, Mark Hellinger. Nobody is black or Puerto Rican. The taxi drivers speak English. No bums or dopers. It's all here, or rather it was all there.

    Now, of course, it's all a little familiar because we've gotten used to location shooting and wince when shots are obviously studio made. But this was new at the time and is still enjoyable to watch.

    The performances are adequate. Don Taylor is bland and doesn't have any accent but he's easy to identify with, at least for me, because he's so pleasant and handsome. Barry Fitzgerald has an oddly creased face and crudely shaped cranium. His smile is almost a mile wide, a caricature of itself, a lovable guy. Howard Duff is -- well, Howard Duff, a liar and a thief. Ted deCorsia is great. We first meet him working out in his shabby apartment, flexing and admiring himself in front of the mirror, his body pale and flabby, a shock of coarse black hair over his sweating forehead. And that voice, like a coffee grinder. And check out the list of supporting actors. Wow. Arthur O'Connell, Nehemia Persoff, James Gregory, inter alia.

    The story itself isn't very much. Rather routine. Could have been a good radio drama of the sort that were popular at the time -- "Suspense" or "The Whistler" or "Inner Sanctum." And the narrator's voice-over sometimes creaks at the joints as it strains for hard-boiled sonority -- "Yesterday she was just another pretty face. This morning she's the marmalade on everybody's toast." (That line kills me.)

    And, I have to admit, that it paints a kind of pretty picture of police procedures. Barry Fitzgerald in particular is folksy, humorous, and compassionate. I kept waiting for him to remove his pipe and mutter, "Ego te absolvo." The police offices look too CLEAN. There are no dents in the wall from suspects having their heads slammed against it. Every surface seems too recently to have been painted. Suspects who shout angrily at their police interrogators and are obviously lying are just politely reasoned with. It was a time of relative civility. The dective's job is to maintain that civility. Like a doctor, he isolated the criminal who functions as a kind of disease. The city wasn't yet the vicious game preserve it was to become in the 60s. At the end, isolated, the murdere is perched high atop the Williamburg Bridge and there are minuscule dots in white below him, playing tennnis, oblivious to the presence of the "other."

    In a neat little touch, the cops are examining the scene of the crime and have found a few stray long hairs. From behind, Fitzgerald leans over the rather mopey middle-aged neighbor on the couch an compares the hair sample to hers. She looks around in surprise. "Er, don't mind me," says Fitzgerald, "I was only admiring your lovely hair." The neighbor clutches her hands together with delight and gazes up at him with an adoring dimpled smile. Fitzgerald pauses a moment, clears his throat, and hurries away.

    Well, okay. This might have been "gritty" at the time but now it's just an interesting picture, a little glossy maybe, but a lot of fun, and ahead of its time with that location shooting by Daniels.
  • An unrealized project of Alfred Hitchcock's was to make a movie about 24 hours in the life of a great city, probably New York. Producer Mark Hellinger enlisted director Jules Dassin to attempt a similar stunt. The result was The Naked City, a slice-of-life police procedural that served as template for the popular television series a decade later. And while the movie is nowhere near the ground-breaking cinematic enterprise that Hellinger promises in his introduction and ceaseless voice-over narration, it's not negligible. With its huge cast (many of them recognizable, even in mute or walk-on roles) and pioneering location shooting on the sidewalks of New York during the sweltering summer of 1947, it nonetheless continues to satisfy. Its documentary aspect outlives its suspense plot.

    It opens with two men chloroforming and then drowning a high-profile model in her city apartment (shades of I Wake Up Screaming and Laura). When her cleaning lady finds her next morning, it falls to Detective Lieutenant Barry Fitzgerald, with his heather-honey lilt, and his principal investigator, Don Taylor, to fit the pieces together. Soon into their web flits Howard Duff, an affable, educated loafer with no visible means of support who lies even when the truth would do him no harm. It seems he was on cozy terms with the deceased, even though he's engaged to one of her co-workers (Dorothy Hart). But although Duff's a poor excuse for a human being, nothing seems to stick to him, either. So the police slog on through the broiling day and soupy night, knocking on doors and flashing pictures of the dead girl. Their sleuthing takes them, and us, up and down the hierarchy of the city's eight million souls, from society dames and society doctors to street vendors and street crazies.

    While the plot never rises out of the routine, these urban excursions give the movie its raffish texture – and remain one of its chief pleasures. This was New York in the dawn of its post-war effloresence, a city where it was still common practice to live comfortably on modest – average – wages. The gap between East Side apartments and Lower East Side walkups, with the bathtub in the kitchen, doesn't yet seem impossible to cross. And its inhabitants burst on camera with a welter of accents and attitudes. Hellinger and Dassin must have enlisted the services of every character-actor and bit-player in the Tri-State area, and film buffs will have a trivia tournament in trying to pick them out.

    The Naked City ends with a chase over hot pavements and a stand-off high up on one of the bridges spanning the East River. It's a great set-piece, of the sort that action movies are all but required to include, but the movie's strength proves more subtle – it lies in its collection of sharply drawn vignettes (some of them, to be sure, little more than sentimental shtik). The Naked City is a rarity – a major production where the day players outshine the stars.
  • In an era when everything was recreated on a Hollywood set, or filmed on their back lots, "Naked City" was different and daring - it was shot on the streets of New York City, and the grittiness and realism was palpable. Detectives have to investigate the murder of a young woman, and scene by scene we are absorbed. The way Barry Fitzgerald as the lieutenant breaks done and rips open Howard Duff is especially memorable, as is the scene of the two parents of the dead girl breaking down. This film is marvelously constructed scene by scene. The performances are standouts, and look for a host of New York actors appearing in uncredited roles: James Gregory, Molly Picon (a giant of Yiddish theatre), David Opatashu (also of the Yiddish theater), Paul Ford, Arthur O'Connell, and others. Ted DeCorsia is great as the villain; catch his other roles.

    "Detective Story" (see review) came out three years later and in its squad room dialogue has more in common with "NYPD Blue" than "Naked City" the movie, but for the realism of the streets and even cinema verite feel, nothing tops "Naked City". And soon a highly successful TV series was named after it. Highly recommended. You'll feel like you're back in New York City in the 1940's!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The narrator intones, "There are eight million stories in the naked city …" as the film begins with scenes of the quiet city in the early hours after midnight. We are introduced to those who are working the third shift in a city that never sleeps. We know that we are not seeing a studio, for the "actors" – those who populate the great city of New York – are eventually observed in apartments, skyscrapers, factories, restaurants, coffee shops, parks, docks, and sidewalks. The city is hot in the summer. During the beginning narration, an unconscious blonde model is being murdered at the young age of 26 years. Within four hours, one of the two murderers kills the other and throws his body into the river. A few hours after that, the cleaning lady enters Miss Dexter's apartment, sees the body in a bathtub, and screams. Now our story takes hold. The police are quickly on the scene, and the newspapers follow. Before long the police examiner determines that the promiscuous woman's death was not by accident or suicide, but by homicide.

    Soon the lawmen discover that the dissolute woman was part of a jewel burglary ring that targeted the rich folks. Frank Niles, disreputable and a pathological liar, and Jean Dexter were part of the set-ups. Also a famous doctor is involved. In reality this film is a routine detective story. It involves the somewhat tedious but difficult – and sometimes dangerous – police work of investigation, of gathering information and piecing it all together. But the detectives and police are dedicated heroes who do their jobs with little complaint. It all comes down to a climax that involves an exciting city-wide dragnet for the arch-killer. Unfortunately for him, he is unable to board an overcrowded bus that would have taken him away from the targeted area. A panicked gunshot at a seeing-eye dog alerts police, and the ending occurs at the Williamsburg Bridge in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Case closed.

    As for Jean Dexter, "her name, her face, her history were worth five cents a day for six days." Now, with the case over, the old newspapers lying in the streets are cleaned up by the city trash men. Dexter is soon forgotten by virtually all, for there are eight million other stories brewing. A very few, including Dexter's grief-stricken parents, will never forget. The next day another story will reach the headlines, and our police heroes will be ready to solve another crime.

    Alhtough Muldoon spearheads the investigation, he is assisted by Jimmy Halloran (Don Taylor); there are other detectives, like Constantino and Perelli, although they have lesser roles. The Irish brogue of Barry Fitzgerald (Det. Lt. Dan Muldoon) can be a bit overpowering, but the pint-sized detective does deliver his lines with knowledge and charm. And is he shrewd! Howard Duff plays sleaze Frank Niles, and Ted DeCorsia is a wicked Willie Garzah. The film's producer, Mark Hellinger, narrates.

    Shot on location on New York City streets in secret, and semi-documentary in style, the film is ground-breaking. It was obviously the inspiration of the later TV series, "Naked City" (1958-1963), and even "Dragnet" before that. The black and white photography is so good that the movie earned an Academy Award. Another award was won for film editing. While the old-time life of the city has changed, many of the police procedures seen are obviously in use today. If the plot seems standard or if the story appears boring at times, remember that detailed police procedure works the same way: constant probing, questioning, checking, and rechecking. Much less often does it consist of high speed chases and slam-bang shoot-outs. Who is the real hero of the story? Why the personality of the city of New York, of course!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Not having seen "The Naked City" in quite some time, the opportunity of watching it again was a pleasure, when TCM showed it last night. This satisfying 1948 film brings us back to the way New York, and especially Manhattan looked at that time. The Lower East Side, especially, in all its chaotic splendor offers a nostalgic look to our past.

    It took the genius of Jules Dassin to see the opportunities for bringing this story by Malvin Wald to the screen. Albert Maltz worked on the screen play with Mr. Wald and the result is a movie that shows the diverse culture of the city. Although the film is about crime in New York City, there are aspects of it that shows how most of what we see is interconnected. This film was the basis for a successful, and innovative television series that showed a different crime story every week and how the NYPD dealt with solving the cases.

    The film starts with a drunk being knocked out and thrown into the river. A woman is discovered dead in her bathtub by her maid. It's determined chloroform was involved in her death. Enter Lt. Muldoon, whose precinct gets involved in the investigation. Muldoon and his right hand man, Det. Jimmy Halleran, also find out jewelry is missing. The dead woman Jean Dexter, a fashion model, leads the police to a Dr. Stoneman, a man that loved her. At the same time, another detective discovers a cigarette case that points to another man, Frank Niles, who also appears to be involved. The drunk in the river was a jewelry thief and he, in turn, points to Harmonica Willie, a tough guy with a criminal record.

    All the elements come together in a great finale that involves a chase on the Williamsburg bridge. Jules Dassin decided to bring his cameras to the streets showing what a real New York looked like and got an excellent performance from most of the people that had no idea they were providing themselves as extras for the film. William Daniels, Greta Garbo's favorite cameraman, and distinguished a director himself, photographed the city in all its glory.

    All the principals do an excellent work in the film. Barry Fitzgerald as Lt. Muldoon shows in fine form. Don Taylor plays Jimmy Halleran. A fine performance from a young Howard Duff, as Frank Niles, is one of the best things in the picture. Ted DeCorsia is seen as a criminal who loves to keep in shape and play his harmonica.

    But what made the film fun for this viewer are the uncredited faces in the picture. We spotted Paul Ford, John Randolph, Nehemiah Persoff, Molly Picon, David Opatashu, and other character actors of that era. It says a lot about their generosity in appearing without being mentioned, something that today would appear unimaginable.

    Credit must go to Jules Dassin for this enormously satisfying movie!
  • This is a great Film Noir movie which I enjoyed very much. My favorite part is watching all the 100's of people on the streets on New York City not having a clue that the are immortalized in this motion picture. I love to freeze frame the street scenes and view how life was like in 1948. So many surprises, for example in the phone booth scene, notice the two men peering out the window in the store across the street. I think those guys were aware of the filming, but as the scene continued, they went back to serving their customers. Just plain magic. There is also a cool goof in this film. Note during the train station chase scene, just after Frank runs by, the director or a film crew member turns towards the camera and yells what I believe is "CUT"...So Fun....I'll see again and again and again!
  • In New York, the model Jean Dexter is found dead in the bathtub of her apartment apparently after committing suicide. However, the coroner concludes that she was actually murdered with a simulation of suicide. The experienced Homicide Lieutenant Detective Dan Muldoon (Barry Fitzgerald) initiates his investigations with Detective Jimmy Halloran (Don Taylor) and his team, and the prime suspect becomes Jean's friend Frank Niles (Howard Duff), who he an alibi but tells many lies in his statement.

    The director Jules Dassin from the masterpiece "Du Rififi Chez Les Hommes" and "Night and the City" presents "The Naked City" totally filmed in locations of New York City and with actors interacting with common people on the streets like in the Italian Neo-Realism. The introduction is unique, with the credits narrated by the producer Mark Hellinger like in a documentary, and I do not recall any other movie with this characteristic. The screenplay discloses a great detective story, very well acted with Barry Fitzgerald playing a cynical and smart lieutenant and Don Taylor an inexperienced and family man detective. In the conclusion, the narrator tells that this is one of the 8,000,000 stories of the naked city, in a time where New York City had only this population (against more than 20 million inhabitants of the present days). My vote is eight.

    Title (Brazil): "Cidade Nua" ("Naked City")

    Note: On 27 May 2016, I saw this film again.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Although this type of noir story is done today with even more grittier realism than they had in 1948, THE NAKED CITY really holds up superbly. All types of film productions and constructions have to begin at some point, and Jules Daissin's decision to shoot this film in 1948 New York was brilliant.

    It is always of double interest to look at a film shot in an earlier version of your city or any city. Buildings that were once seemingly part of the ever present New York Scene turn out to have been as mortal as human beings are. Today if one sees distance shots in 1990 films showing the World Trade Towers, you can see the best example of this (and the most aggravating). The site of the streets of the different ethnic sections of lower Manhattan and Brooklyn in 1948 (now totally different in their main ethnic make-up) is one thing that gets us. Back then the Lower East Side meant Jews. Little Italy meant Italians. Chinatown meant Chinatown. Now Chinatown has expanded into Little Italy, and the Jews (for the most part) moved out of the Lower East Side, and their apartments are full of Latinos.

    It is pointed out in one of the reviews that a stumbling block in this film (for a modern audience) was that there is little visibility of African-Americans and Latinos. I would agree it is odd, except most of the investigation of Don Taylor and Barry Fitzgerald was in lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. The enclaves (at that time) of African-Americans and Latinos in Manhattan were Harlem and Spanish Harlem, which are on the North side of the Island.

    It was a gutsy move to take the film to the City - but Daissin was always innovative in trying to make whatever film he did seem realistic. The subject matter, the murder of a model - turned mistress - turned member of a burglary gang, was also up his alley. Daissin's best films (RIFIFI, TOPKAPI) examine the mechanics of the underworld - how does a jewelry heist get accomplished, how does a the human element undue everything. If John Huston had not done THE ASPHALT JUNGLE, Daissin would have been a perfect substitute for that story as well. Here from a mysterious tragedy, Taylor and Fitzgerald find a story that goes up and down the entire social system, involving professional burglars (Ted De Corsia and Walter Burke), first generation Americans in the rather new suburbs (Adelaide Klein and Grover Burgess), a society doctor who ruins himself (House Jamison), and pathological misfits trying to find a place for themselves in society (Howard Duff). The connecting link is the deceased - a girl who wanted a career and freedom from the stultifying life she left in New Jersey. Instead she found death.

    Fitzgerald is criticized for his Hollywood style staginess - actually he probably developed his staginess from exactly that: the stage (the Abbey Players he belonged to, with his brother Arthur Shields, and others who frequently were in John Ford movies). In reality he is not over-the-top. His best moment is when he and Taylor and some other detectives are talking about the case, and Fitzgerald picks up on his "everyman" style suspect that he trots out to solve his mysteries. Fitzgerald is enjoying the moment - he even gave the "everyman" an Irish name. He reasons (quite correctly) that if one just looks at the average criminal as like an "everyman" the behavior mirrored in the crime scenes is fairly simple to figure out, and that you can narrow down the possibilities until you get the right perpetrator. Actually it is a reasonable way of doing it.

    Duff's emotional collapse is another highpoint - a pathological liar he finds his lies are meaningless now that they have led to the murder of a harmless girl. Another key scene belongs to Adelaide Klein. Her Mrs. Bathory is absolutely angry at her daughter for leaving home for a life in the City. Why were they living in the suburbs but to escape the grime of the city? She won't say a single thing for the deceased until she sees the girl's corpse, and then just breaks down - she did love the little girl who grew up after all. Jamison's doctor, besotted with the girl who he gave information used for a string of burglaries, also collapses after his confession. He is stopped by Taylor before he can kill himself (more lucky - or less, depending on how you look at it - than Louis Calhern in THE ASPHALT JUNGLE).

    Collapse under strain follows even the villain. I wish someone did a real study on Ted De Corsia. One of a string of movie heavies in the noir tradition (with Howard De Silva and Jack Lambert, among others) they replaced the perpetuals of an earlier period (the aristocrats: Zucco, Atwill, Daniel, Macready, Rathbone - not totally but sufficiently because they fit into the roles better). De Corsia had begun only a year before as the obnoxious, blackmailing, and doomed gumshoe for hire Sidney Broome in THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI, but although quite effective there his character was secondary. Here he is quite cool and controlled (on the surface) bumping off two associates, and nearly a third one, escaping into the anonymity of the city, and even (quite intentionally) just knocking out Taylor because he doesn't want the chair for killing a cop. But in his almost perfect escape his nerves are on edge, and a final, unexpected error leads to his last stand.

    Yes, there have been many similar gritty film noir since 1948, and there may be eight million more in our futures - but this was a great one!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    At the time of its release, "The Naked City" was a contemporary offering in the sense that it utilised the "docu-noir" and "Italian neorealist" styles which were popular during the late 1940s. More significantly, however, it was also incredibly innovative and influential because, not only was it the first movie to be shot entirely on-location in New York City but also it's widely acknowledged as being the first movie to show in detail, the very routine nature of a police investigation. This effectively paved the way for all the police procedural films that followed and so its significance in cinema history is difficult to overstate.

    The role that the city plays is enormous as its presence and characteristics are re-emphasised repeatedly throughout the film. The use of location shooting, views of the subways and non-professionals in some of the supporting roles, all add authenticity to the action and shots of children at play, street vendors and busy streets convey a strong sense of the vitality of the city and its relentless nature.

    When the dead body of a beautiful young woman is found in her apartment by her housekeeper, Detective Lieutenant Dan Muldoon (Barry Fitzgerald) and his young partner, Detective Jimmy Halloran (Don Taylor) are assigned to the case. After the medical examiner confirms that Jean Dexter (who was a model), had been murdered, Muldoon questions the housekeeper, Martha Swenson (Virginia Mullen) about her employer's friends and this leads to Frank Niles (Howard Duff), Dr Lawrence Stoneman (House Jameson) and Ruth Morrison (Dorothy Hart) all being interviewed by the detectives.

    Niles had been one of the victim's ex-boyfriends who had since become engaged to Ruth Morrison. He proves to be an inveterate liar and further checks establish that he'd sold a gold cigarette case that had been stolen from Dr Stoneman and that his fiancée's engagement ring had also been stolen. Dr Stoneman confirms that he had prescribed the sleeping tablets that had been found in the victim's apartment and Ruth Morrison, a model who'd worked with Dexter, is soon regarded as not being involved in any wrongdoing.

    Further investigations reveal that Jean Dexter and Frank Niles had been involved in arranging jewellery thefts and that they had hired other criminals to actually carry out the robberies. This information then leads to the killer's identity and motive finally being discovered.

    The police officers in this movie are depicted as being good humoured, scrupulously honest and not at all cynical. Muldoon is a very friendly and experienced detective who has spent most of his career dealing with homicide investigations and Barry Fitzgerald is amusing but also sometimes a little over-the-top in the way that he portrays this Irishman. Don Taylor is good in his role as Halloran who is Muldoon's very enthusiastic and well-meaning partner and Howard Duff provides some moments of humour in his excellent performance as the disreputable Niles who is unable to open his mouth without telling a series of lies. Ted de Corsia also makes a strong impression in his minor part as a harmonica-playing wrestler!

    Producer Mark Hellinger's narration is very dated but Jules Dassin's direction and the quality of William H Daniels' Oscar-winning cinematography are both very impressive. Another outstanding highlight of this film is the final chase sequence which is both exciting and brilliantly choreographed.
  • Lejink7 January 2009
    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.
  • 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.
  • jimddddd7 June 2010
    Though credited as being a groundbreaking movie that brought documentary-style film-making to the stylized genre of film noir (thanks to smaller cameras that were developed during the war, as well as the popularity of the Italian neo-realists), "The Naked City" seems very old-fashioned until it rushes toward its denouement on the streets and bridges (well, the Williamsburg Bridge) of New York. The victim's apartment is very much a studio set, as is the police station, and their artificiality clashes with the exhilarating location footage. Also, much of the dialog and the overall acting styles, as well as the stock character of the "Oi-rish" cop played by Barry Fitzgerald, are straight out of thirties Hollywood. It can be very jarring at times. Fortunately, the film becomes more of a real police procedural toward the second half, and spends more time on real locations, culminating with the exciting chase above the East River. "The Naked City" is often called a classic because it changed the direction of American film-making, but on it's own merits it's a flawed classic.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    How many cop films feature: (1) a crime that never expands beyond its initial level, i.e. an investigation of a brutal and senseless murder ends up with a brutal and senseless murder, (2) the cops solve the case not by brilliant Sherlockian logic, but simply by walking and asking questions (the way real police investigators spend 99.99% of their time), (3) a person who claims to be able to crack the case but turns out to be a crack pot, or (4) a person who confesses to the crime only because he thinks he belongs in jail (happens repeatedly in real cases with a lot of publicity, but NEVER in films). This film has all of these realistic events, PLUS a compelling plot and characters. A cop movie that is both true-to-life AND fascinating -- a combo not seen since.
  • After a half century, Naked City still stands out as one of the best on-location movies filmed in New York City. It wasn't all that unique -- quite a few movies were filmed on location in the city back then. (A 1950 movie called "Side Street," which actually has a more interesting plot, also was filmed entirely on location and aped the narration bookends.) What makes this one different is the use of locations, which has never been better. Also this one had very strong performances, particularly from Barry Fitzgerald. Dig the way he steals every scene he's in.
  • rooee13 November 2014
    "There are eight million stories in New York City," intones the narrator, "and this is just one of them." Not all stories are as gripping as this one, though. The Naked City is a tough-as-nails detective noir (there are two murders in the first five minutes) from Jules "Rififi" Dassin, and it delivers all the suspicion, salaciousness, and shooting one could hope for – albeit not much more.

    As with his previous film, the prison drama Brute Force, Dassin is plunging us into a brutal underworld, although this time we're watching events from the perspective of the cops, led by Lieutenant Muldoon (Barry Fitzgerald), as they investigate the murder of a female model. Suspects come and go, with some really dodgy ones thrown in as red herrings, before the culprit takes his pursuers on a tour of New York landmarks.

    Claiming to present the city "as it is", Dassin shot the film largely without sets, giving the exterior scenes in particular an unusual (for 1948) sense of authenticity. The same can't be said of the performances, which are wildly melodramatic at times, although in the lead role Fitzgerald brings a typically wicked dry wit.

    The script might lack the sharpness of a true classic such as Double Indemnity, and the dialogue could have done with some hard boiling by the likes of Jim "The Killing" Thompson, but the film ebbs and flows admirably, daring to portray detective work as an imperfect science. For every revelation or clue there's a mad man or woman claiming they killed Jean Dexter. At one point the investigation comes to a shuddering halt as the men claw for leads. But it's all in the service of a tremendous third act, which ramps up the pace, and leads to a brilliantly composed chase 'em up finale, of which a certain Mr Hitchcock would have been proud.

    What stops The Naked City from matching Hitch's finest work is a lack of anything to really distinguish it from the crowd. The absurdly verbose narrator pushes the idea that it is, in a sense, the ugly city itself that's killed beautiful Jean, but it's a theme that never fully convinces in what we're actually shown. The film does come to life in a handful of individual scenes – such as a visit to the mortuary, where Jean's mother decries her daughter before crying for her; or a confrontation with a rabbit-punching ex-wrestler – but overall there's little here not done before, bar a documentary-style conceit hardly plundered.

    "It's a heavy case," we're told more than once, and it's a heavy film. Unsentimental and intensely talky (until that last act), it's a well-constructed, if ultimately unremarkable, police procedural in which to sink on a Sunday afternoon.
  • ...New York! This film is presented as a quasi-documentary (it is not). Though the story is fictional, the setting is entirely real - 1948 New York City. And that is the biggest appeal of the picture (I was born and raised there so I may be biased). Some interior shots appear to have been filmed on a sound stage, but the bulk of it is on location. For example, there is a scene filmed in lower Manhattan near Rivington and Norfolk streets. It show's a bustling, thriving "family" neighborhood with well dressed folks and kids playing in the neighborhood. It looks nothing like that now - just a place to pass through to get to somewhere else (though there is a school there now - check google maps and find the intersection - you can see the same building in the opening shot for that scene).

    Story-wise, it's a pretty solid film especially considering how dated movies from this period can be. There appears to be a real attempt to make the movie as accurate as possible and goes out of its way to include the methods used in solving modern crimes such as forensics - probably a novelty at the time. The acting is solid throughout. I'm not sure how comfortable I am with the idea of a narrator - on the one hand, it lends authenticity to the documentary feel, but on the other, it can take you "out" of the picture at times. Overall, very worth watching. I give it a thumbs up (can I do that here?)
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The late 1940s saw noirs moving away from Expressionism and toward crime dramas with a more pseudo-documentarian style. This resulted in films like "Boomerang", "Detective Story", "The Naked City", "The Enforcer", "The House on 92nd Street", "Code 2", "The Blue Gardenia", "Street With No Name" and "Call Northside 777", most of which eschewed private detectives and noir heroes and focused instead on newspaper reporters, lawyers, lowly cops, bureaucrats and journalists, all characters personally disinterested in the narratives being resolved. All professionals simply doing a job.

    "The Naked City", directed by Jules Dassin, isn't the best of these films, but it's perhaps the most influential. Shot on location in New York City, the film's title alludes, amongst other things, to Dassin's cinema verite style, New York laid bare, exposed, naked and raw. Such faux authenticity is commonplace today, but back in the 1940s, was a big deal. The result is Dassin's camera, which salivates over stolen shots of New York City, in which regular people go about their daily business, the city and its inhabitants proceeding as if unobserved. "This is the city as it is," the film's narrator proudly says. "The children at play, the buildings in their naked stone." The film is seriously pleased with its eavesdropping.

    Eventually a story develops. A sexually promiscuous woman has been murdered, a crime upon which detectives Dan Muldoon and James Halloran are set loose. We follow them over the course of six days, watching as they do the leg work, trace leads and converge on their suspect. Audiences raised on TV crime dramas will be unimpressed, but such procedurals were novel back in the 1940s.

    Luckily the film ends with a bang, Dassin treating us to a long chase sequence in which cops chase a crook across Lower East Side tenements and then up the Williamsburg Bridge. This chase is merely a vehicle for showing off yet more of New York City, but Dassin directs with some style, his camera gliding through rich and poor neighbourhoods, along train tracks, up stairs and eventually up the iron latticeworks of the Williamsburg Bridge.

    The film's coda then mirrors its opening portion, our narrator smugly reminding us that we have merely witnessed "one of the city's 8 million tales". Yes, we get it, the city is the star. The film is not a noir, but its contrast between the dreary ordinariness of a police procedural and the vast scale of New York nevertheless conjures up the existential lamentations of noir.

    Incidentally, a young Stanley Kubrick would often be on Dassin's set, taking photographs. Kubrick was himself heavily influenced by Dassin's film, his first noir, "Killer's Kiss", taking all the good parts from Dassin's work here and throwing away the fat. Shot on a shoestring, Kubrick's chase through New York's concrete jungles ably matches "Naked's" climactic chase. "The Naked City" also has other Kubrick connections. It was inspired by the work of New York photographer and photojournalist Arthur Fellig, also known as "Weegee". Himself a talented photographer, Kubrick was friends with Fellig, and hired him as a consultant and stills photographer when directing "Dr Strangelove".

    7.9/10 – Worth one viewing.
  • Tho a fine crime story in essence, and with undoubted superlative location work from Academy Award winning photographer William H. Daniels, The Naked City just doesn't add up to a great movie whole. The story follows a police procedural pattern as Barry Fitzgerald's Lt. Dan Muldoon and his wet behind the ears side-kick Jimmy Halloran (Don Taylor) try to crack the case of a murdered blonde playgirl. With no clues, the pair run down a number of blind alleys chasing weak leads. Can they crack the case? Will young Halloran be able to learn the wily ways of the experienced New York Cop before it's too late?

    Perhaps it's the reputation that did it down for this first time viewer? Or maybe the ream of imitations that followed it have put the film so high on a pedestal it's now impossible to achieve expectation levels? Maybe yes to both, but I found it to be very ordinary and bogged down by a too talky core that's executed poorly by a host of mundane acting performances. Fitzgerald hams it for all he is worth, with is comedy moments severely misplaced, while Taylor is out acted by a door. The rest I can't bare to talk about. The one saving grace is Ted de Corsia's villain, a nasty piece of work that gets a nice line in desperation/mania from Corsia.

    No doubt about it, Daniels' work, de Corsia and a thrilling last ten minutes, stopped this from hitting the below average mark from this disillusioned observer. 5/10
  • The Naked City (1948)

    There are 8 million stories in the naked city, we are told. This is one of them. A fairly standard plot, The Naked City pieces together an ensemble of cops navigating the labyrinth murder investigation of a young model. Lies are told, people are not who they seem. It's a real whodunnit, a real heavy case, as they say. Rookie homicide detective Jimmy Halloran (Taylor) is paired with the veteran Irish cop, Dan Muldoon (Fitzgerald). Together the two, along with the rest of the homicide squad slowly put the pieces together.

    The film is set in a semi-documentary style, going on to inspire police procedurals from High and Low to NYPD Blue and various other cop and criminal TV shows. That is an immense credit to the film. Oddly though, the film is narrated, by we are told, the producer. He describes, among other things, that the film is directed by Jules Dassin. The narration is quite strange, and at times silly and off-putting. At other times it works brilliantly.

    Even by 1940s standards, The Naked City contains some very hammy acting and writing, that can be very frustrating and almost sent me into fits from time to time. Nevertheless, the film works despite itself, because of itself. Jules Dassin, one of the great film noir helmers, creates a visual representation of New York City that is not only breathtaking, but relentlessly nostalgic today. I found myself thinking about what a shame it is that the city is no longer looks this way to be captured on film anymore. Thankfully there are a multitude of other classic films which can appease my appetite for nostalgia. Few however, have managed to capture the city in such elegant a fashion as Dassin does here.

    All in all, The Naked City is an admirable film, for its visuals, its hardboiled story, and for its remarkable finale. As a product of its time, its at once a great success, though the years may have not treated this one well. The acting, the narration, and some of the dialogue is almost self parody at times now. But nevertheless, The Naked City was a unique offering, one that has been so highly influential.
  • The producer/narrator informs us in the opening sequence of "The Naked City" that the movie won't be something we're used to, it's going to be filmed on location, it's going to tell a realistic story of life in a city of 8 million. Quite possibly this was something new and unexpected in 1948, and it's actually a testament to the influence of "The Naked City" that the disclaimer seems totally unnecessary 60 years later, as we have become accustomed to cinema and television dramas that unfold just as this one does.

    If "The Naked City"'s plot seems a bit boring by modern standards, it's because we've been exposed to generations of writers who felt the need to create more and more elaborate and unlikely stories to keep the audience's interest. But they all were specifically trying to make something even more stunning than what came before, and "The Naked City" is probably what many of them had in mind when they thought of what preceded their work.

    In that regard, it's fascinating to go back and see the original model, even if it doesn't quite have the shocking flourishes of today's cop drama. "The Naked City" tells its story very well, and at times the well-written narration will have even the hardened crime drama buff feeling quite excited, even riveted.

    It's a simple enough story, with only lip service done to the "cop's home life" subplot that's always been a hallmark of the cop drama, and the core story actually benefits from its simplicity. The viewer can follow the action closely, and when it ends a simple, highly energetic (and well-directed) climax, the viewer feels as if it's the perfect release to the building tension. It's nothing fancy or cerebral, it's just a highly enjoyable telling of one of those 8 million stories to be found in the naked city...
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