Most of the street scenes were shot on location in New York without the public's knowledge. Photographer William H. Daniels and his uncredited assistant Roy Tripp filmed people on the streets using a hidden camera from the back of an old moving van. Occasionally, a fake newsstand with a hidden camera inside was also set up on the sidewalk to secretly film the actors. Director Jules Dassin hired a juggler to distract the crowds and also hired a man to occasionally climb up on a light post and give a patriotic speech, while waving an American flag to get the crowd's attention.
Although since the 1980s it has been the norm rather than the exception, this is one of the first films to list technical (non-acting) credits at the end of the movie.
A young Stanley Kubrick was sometimes present on the set taking photographs for Look magazine. Eight years later, when he directed his first major film The Killing (1956), its cast included "Naked City" cast member Ted de Corsia. Also on the set then was Arthur 'Weegee' Fellig, the photographer whose own "Naked City" book had inspired this movie. And 16 years later, when Kubrick made Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), WeeGee served not only as a special effects advisor., but even more importantly, his unique voice served as the source for the creation of the accent of the iconic film's title character, played by Peter Sellers.
Producer Mark Hellinger, who narrates the movie, died of a heart attack before the film was released. Following his death, Universal Pictures executives were ready to scrap the movie. They had no idea how to market it and feared it would be a box-office failure. However, Hellinger's family reminded the studio that his contract for the film included a "guarantee of release" clause from Universal. Having no choice, Universal released the film in theaters and was surprised when it became a hit and received two Oscars. In addition, Hellinger has been such a beloved New York journalist that a Broadway theater on West 51st Street was re-named for him.
Jean Dexter's apartment building is shown as "52 West 83rd Street." The facade is actually the Lathrop, at 46 West 83rd St., a short walk from Central Park. The Lathrop was built after the turn of the 20th century. Now condos, a 2 bedroom unit at the Lathrop now advertises for > $1,400,000.
Life Magazine wrote that this film was producer Mark Hellinger's "personal love letter to New York" and that he was present on every location in New York, checking details and supervising it.
NYPD's 10th precinct is still housed in the same building at 230 W. 20th St., in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, and the brief shot of its 1st floor interior, with the big front desk on the right, also is still untouched.
Film debut of James Gregory as an uncredited patrolman. Gregory would go on--in his 40-year career--to play scores of other TV and film cops, perhaps most memorably and self-mockingly as Inspector Frank Luger on 66 episodes of the 1970s comedy hit Barney Miller (1975).
The basic plot of the film was the basis of a case players can solve in the video game, L.A. Noire (2011), released on May 17, 2011 by Rockstar Games. In the game the story is moved to 1940s Los Angeles.
Both Paul Ford and John Randolph were working on the New York stage in the hit drama "Command Decision" (which itself would be produced by MGM as a Clark Gable vehicle) when they appeared in this film, which was shot on location in the city.
Film debut of Kathleen Freeman. NOTE: Her uncredited bit part on the elevated train was the beginning a career of over 50 years and literally hundreds of feature film and television roles.
Film debut of Ted de Corsia, plus--filling out small roles--the uncredited debuts of Kathleen Freeman, Bruce Gordon, James Gregory, Nehemiah Persoff and John Randolph.
A marquee from Loew's Delancy Theater (NYC) advertising Alias Nick Beal (1949) starring Ray Milland is shown behind actor Paul Ford near the end of the film.
In the scene where Muldoon and Halloran are shown entering an apartment house on Park Avenue, the awning shows the address "478". The building is actually 480 Park Avenue, one of the residential buildings designed by noted architect Emory Roth.
The film features shots, including an escape from police, of the city's 'el' - the elevated subway lines which used to run above 3rd Avenue in Manhattan. The els would all be gone within a few (~ 5 or so) years after this film. Whilst it's true their removal enabled the sidewalks below them to receive light, the lack of a viable alternative (in particular, a Second Ave. subway) meant that the Lexington Ave. lines (the 4, 5, and 6) would become the most congested lines. The planned Second Ave line was only finished (the first stage of it, that is, which only runs to 72nd and 2nd) more than 50 years after this film.
Detective Perelli played by Tom Pedi inspired Harry Bellaver's Det. Frank Acaro from the Naked City television series ten years later.
Last screen appearance of Grover Burgess (I) (1892-1948). He died approximately three months after the release of The Naked City.
Kathleen Freeman's first film appearance as the Stout Girl on Elevated Train (uncredited). She has one line of dialogue.
The film's unique visual style was said to have been inspired by the legendary New York City crime photographer Arthur 'Weegee' Fellig who in 1945 had published a photography book entitled "Naked City." Indeed, Weegee was hired as an (uncredited) consultant on the movie and definitely influenced its imagery. But others believe that the post-war neorealism style made famous in Italian classics like Bicycle Thieves (1948) outweighed Weegee's influence.
The police building shown after Miss Dexter is found was the NYPD police headquarters. The building is still there, located at Centre and Grand Streets, though it is now luxury condos.