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The Naked City (1948)

Approved  |   |  Crime, Drama, Film-Noir  |  4 March 1948 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 7,998 users  
Reviews: 76 user | 65 critic

New York City film noir about two detectives investigating the death of an attractive young woman. The apparent suicide turns out to be murder.



(screenplay), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Complete credited cast:
Ruth Morrison
Don Taylor ...
Jimmy Halloran
Frank Conroy ...
Captain Donahue
Garzah (as Ted De Corsia)
House Jameson ...
Dr. Stoneman
Anne Sargent ...
Mrs. Halloran
Adelaide Klein ...
Mrs. Batory
Grover Burgess ...
Mr. Batory
Tom Pedi ...
Detective Perelli
Enid Markey ...
Mrs. Hylton
Mark Hellinger ...
Narrated By (voice)


Amid a semi-documentary portrait of New York and its people, Jean Dexter, an attractive blonde model, is murdered in her apartment. Homicide detectives Dan Muldoon and Jimmy Halloran investigate. Suspicion falls on various shifty characters who all prove to have some connection with a string of apartment burglaries. Then a burglar is found dead who once had an elusive partner named Willie. The climax is a very rapid manhunt sequence. Filmed entirely on location in New York City. Written by Rod Crawford <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The Most Exciting Story of the World's Most Exciting City! See more »


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

4 March 1948 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La ciudad desnuda  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


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. See more »


Halloran gets his suit wet wile walking past an open hydrant, but it is dried by the time he gets into the house. See more »


Muldoon: I don't know anything about medicine, doctor, but that's one prescription that never cured anything.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The opening credits are spoken by producer/narrator Mark Hellinger. No credits are seen on the screen. See more »


Sobre las Olas (Over the Waves)
(1887) (uncredited)
Written by Juventino Rosas
Background music for the girls on swings
See more »

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User Reviews

A Turning Point In Film Noir
31 March 2005 | by (Biloxi, Mississippi) – See all my reviews

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

66 of 73 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Recent Posts
narration waterboy995
really shot ONLY on actual locations??? miriamwebster
Whoa! Huge omission from the slice-of-NYC-life aspect theclockticks
Parents of Murdered Girl SusanJL
Who played Jean Dexter the murdered girl? sweetheart87
Horses nycnftm
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