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At Bellvue Hospital, New York, an intern is shot in the head by an unknown killer. Inspector Gordon of the 9th Precinct finds no obvious leads but senses an undercurrent of mystery at the hospital; enter Detective Fred Rowan, whose medical background enables him to pose as an intern. Through wheels within wheels, Rowan finally penetrates to a secret, dirty racket...and nurse Ann Sebastian, whom he's been dating, may be mixed up in it. Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
In order to overcome New York Mayor O'Dwyer's objections to the negative portrayal of hospital procedures, Universal Studios provided an introduction, spoken by Richard Conte, in which he said the story was fictitious and did not take place in any particular U.S. city. See more »
"The Sleeping City" stands out as one of the more interesting "semi-documentary"-style films noirs. Like others in this subgenre, the movie opens with a narration--but since this one is delivered by Richard Conte, it is far less tedious than most. More than just a narration, this is a disclaimer: just because the movie was filmed on location at Bellevue Hospital does not mean any of the events it depicts are true.
The plot is fairly conventional, but there are some interesting characters not always seen in movies: particularly that of Nurse Sebastian. She is a slightly unconventional 'working woman' femme fatale. Another interesting, though not totally original character is Pop Ware--desperate and doomed, he is a true denizen of the noir universe. The scene in which Pop reveals the true nature of his "business" is a classic noir moment, as is Fred's violent reaction to it.
Richard Conte does more than justice to his conflicted character. It is always a pleasure to watch this fine, undervalued actor. Richard Taber is chilling as he reveals the dark underbelly of Pop Ware. The only surprise here is Coleen Gray. Given an interesting role for one of the few times in her career, this beautiful creature demonstrates that she is a real actress. Few more highly regarded players could emulate the strange mixture of corruption and sweetness that Gray provides. It's a memorable performance.
The other star of the film is the location, and director George Sherman's use of it. Filmed in stark black and white, using a style that would become typical of this kind of film in the 1950s, the institution is both grandiose and foreboding. Several shots make it look like exactly like a prison. And the director makes good use of silent corridors and rainslicked streets surrounding the hospital.
Not a major noir masterpiece, but with it's location and Gray's performance, "The Sleeping City" is a must-see for noir aficionados.
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