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The body of an unknown woman turns up in a stolen car abandoned in a New York park, and the only clue the detectives on the case have to work from is the tattoo on her arm, and the fact that someone tried to deface the corpse to remove the evidence. From this slender trail, and that of a single stem of grass discovered in the car, they gradually trace back first the victim and then her killer, in a case that's all science and legwork, and no magic inspiration. Written by
Replacing the lead shot in the shotgun shell with sand would actually help the investigation. A shotgun barrel is not rifled with land and grooves, like a rifle or pistol, but is smooth so therefore the barrel would not leave identifying marks on the lead pellets. See more »
THE TATTOOED STRANGER was made two years after THE NAKED CITY and is obviously strongly influenced by it. Both films start with the murder of a woman and no clues. Both feature a team of a veteran and a neophyte detective. Both emphasize the legwork the young detective has to do, going from store to store throughout the city. In both the young detective tries to catch the killer alone. And both even feature a location with gravestones in the final chase. Yet, still, STRANGER is much more effective in capturing the real, everyday city, and is a memorable film in its own right. THE NAKED CITY rarely looks as though it were filmed with a hidden camera; in that bigger-budget production, the real locations look more like sets, with hired extras, studio camera-work and lighting, etc. (The exception, of course, is the breathtaking finale on the Williamsburg Bridge.) And the foreground action takes precedence; one doesn't get a strong sense of the texture of the city the way one does in STRANGER, where almost the entire film is made on various locations, including The Bowery.
The detection and the crime are quite realistic, and the bit players--including two tattoo experts and various luncheonette owners--seem as though they were pulled off the street. The excellent pacing matches a good script and performances appropriate to the story. The dialogue is sharp: pointing the body out to morgue attendants arriving just after the shootout, "He's over here, just the way you like him." And the young clean-cut cop has a nice sense of what a cop can get away with. In one of those greasy luncheonettes he tells a customer who seems interested in his conversation, "Joe, your ice cream's melting." With its real sense of the seedy atmosphere of the city, its agreeable pacing and crisp dialogue, THE TATTOOED STRANGER is a top notch film in its genre, able to hold its own in comparison to bigger-budgeted films.
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