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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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" (1950) conveys seriousness predominantly. There is purpose, it says. There is purpose in a giant hospital facility like the Bellevue, and actor Richard Conte explains it in the film's prologue. An intern has been shot and killed nearby, and the crime has a purpose. It's not the work of a psycho or petty criminal. The police inspector in charge, John Alexander, is entirely serious in his purpose: find the killer. His clothes, his demeanor and his appearance all convey seriousness and purpose. He places Richard Conte undercover as an intern in the facility that is a city all on its own. Conte is serious, and he's seriously interrogated by the head of Bellevue before being allowed this job.
Jobs must be done within the walls and without. The mechanisms of society must roll on. The human being is within these mechanisms, dutifully doing a useful job that contributes, or sometimes not so dutifully committing crimes instead. They must be found out, stopped, controlled. Conte will do his job and duty. This is serious business, the movie conveys.
Conte's roommate is an embittered Alex Nicol who cannot confess his troubles to Conte. What humor he introduces is of the most mordant and scathing variety. Conte has some medical experience but he must rely on head nurse of the traumatics ward, Coleen Gray. Their attraction is evident. She's a divorcée with a child that needs medical care. Wandering the corridors and a bookie is the man who operates the elevator, Richard Taber.
The camera seems to need only point anywhere inside or outside the buildings to convey somber surroundings: grim, serious, stern, humorless, and dangerous. The film is shot on location, and the results are terrific. The surroundings are made for noir choices and lighting.
The dialog is sharp and memorable.
"The Sleeping City" develops its story seamlessly. It does not follow the scriptwriter's recipe of plot points at more or less designated times and intervals. Conte enters a new world and no obvious clues materialize. He makes no obvious detective-style search. He meets people and observes. The shooting is somehow connected to this world of its own but how? "Sleeping City" remains unissued in Universal's vaults, judging from a bankrupt Google search. The old AMC channel showed it many years ago without interruptions and with very slight and quickly disappearing logos, the source of extant copies, I presume. If the video tape recorder was a good one, these copies can be quite good.
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