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Efrem Zimbalist Jr.,
A crime drama that focused on the lives of the detectives of New York's 65th Precinct. The emphasis in the stories was mostly on real-life crime and the human element. Season one stars were Lt. Dan Muldoon and Det. Jim Halloran; seasons 2-4 stars were Det. Adam Flint and Lt. Mike Parker. Written by
[first season only]
Ladies and gentlemen, you are about to see "The Naked City." I'm Bert Leonard, the producer. This story was not photographed in a studio. Quite the contrary. The actors played out their roles in the streets and the buildings of New York itself.
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On some season 2 (1960-61) episodes, the main guest star was listed before the show's regulars in the opening credits. See more »
I became interested in this show a couple of years ago when I read in TV Guide that a poll of new York City Policemen voted it he best cop show ever, beating out #2 Homicide and all the recent cop classics, such as Law and Order, NYPD Blue, Hill Street Blues, etc. That was pretty impressive since Naked City was on a generation or more before those shows and it was remarkable that modern day policemen had even heard of it, much less voted it #1. it must be rerun in new York City, which it rarely is elsewhere.
The original basis for this was not a police story at all but a book of photographs of New York City that came out in the 1940's from a photographer who called himself "Weegee". veteran newspaperman turned movie producer and writer Mark Hellinger wrote a story for a movie that would be filmed on location in the Big Apple with the same sort of photography Weegee used. He decided a police chase story would be the best way to show the city off and the result was the classic police drama "The Naked City", (1948), with Hellinger narrating. He died shortly thereafter but the writer-producer team of Stirling Silliphant and Herbert Leonard, (who later would give us Route 66), decided to make a TV series based on the movie, also shot on location with narration by Leonard. It came to fruition ten years after the movie with a very young James Franciscus and wise old John McIntyre as the stars. Both those actors decided they didn't like working in New York, (especially on the frigid early mornings that the series habitually filmed in so they could have the streets to themselves). This early half hour version of the show went off the air after one year. Silliphant and Leonard didn't give up, however and an hour long version of Naked City premiered in 1960 with Paul Burke and Horace McMahon replacing Franciscus and McIntyre, (who's character had been killed off in the earlier show). This version lasted three years and included some of the best writers and actors in New York You name it, they were on the show: Ed Asner, Robert DuVal, Jack Lord, George C Scott, Dustin Hoffman, Peter Falk, Suzanne Pleshette, Lois Nettleton and many, many others. Each episode ended with Leonard intoning "There are 8 million stories in the Naked City. This had been one of them."
I finally got to see some episodes of both versions of the show. They were excellent shows for their time. I can't honestly rate them above the current crop of urban dramas but they are an important part of TV history. the writing and acting are certainly excellent. There is a strong "Sixties" mentality about them in that the emphasis is on the story of the criminal, with the policemen essentially playing supporting roles and the victim often not more than a chalk drawing. There is too much violence in them, with too many "wild west" type shoot outs. This happens occasionally, as we can see in the headlines, but no where near as often as this show seems to suggest. (McMahon's character says in one episode that he has had eight partners die in the line of duty. Eight!!!) Jack Webb had already pioneered taking much of the gunplay from cop shows but Naked City put it back with a vengeance. The modern shows have violence as part of their stories but they usually show the aftermath. Also, this Naked City is lilly white. As the modern shows reveal, much of the crime takes place in the poorer neighborhoods but you virtually never see any blacks or hispanics in the "Eight Million Stories". Italian or Eastern European is about as "ethnic" as it gets.
I had thought that Naked City was a 50's-60's progenitor to the modern shows but upon viewing it, I really can't say that it is. It is a creature of it's time. The modern urban dramas are almost another genre entirely.
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