A private eye escapes his past to run a gas station in a small town, but his past catches up with him. Now he must return to the big city world of danger, corruption, double crosses and duplicitous dames.
When powerful publishing tycoon Earl Janoth commits an act of murder at the height of passion, he cleverly begins to cover his tracks and frame an innocent man whose identity he doesn't ... See full summary »
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 <email@example.com>
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. See more »
In the scene near the end where Garza is running along a street in New York, the car holding the camera (in the passenger window) is visible in the store windows, keeping pace with the actor as he stops and starts. See more »
After Niles has been rifling through his valise apparently to check whether a supposed burglar has struck: "He got it didn't they?
Looking crestfallen: "No, there's nothing missing. I don't have any valuables".
Suspiciously: "What were you looking for so hard just now - your BVD's?"
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The opening credits are spoken by producer/narrator Mark Hellinger. No credits are seen on the screen. See more »
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
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