The Naked City

  • 1948
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Crime

This superlative film set the pattern for myriad documentary-type dramas to come. Its producer, Hellinger, patterned the tale after the tabloid newspaper stories he wrote in his youth, and he narrates the picture with the same kind of terse but poignant vitality that was the hallmark of his sensational prose. Though basically a crime story--with, oddly,...read more

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This superlative film set the pattern for myriad documentary-type dramas to come. Its producer, Hellinger, patterned the tale after the tabloid newspaper stories he wrote in his youth, and he narrates the picture with the same kind of terse but poignant vitality that was the hallmark of his

sensational prose. Though basically a crime story--with, oddly, only character actor Fitzgerald as its star--the film is also a romance with the city itself, one where Hellinger embraces soiled urchins and immaculate society ladies with equal passion. The story opens with the bathtub murder of a

beautiful blonde playgirl. The police are left with no clues. Fitzgerald and his brash young assistant, Taylor, are assigned the case and spend most of their time running down weak leads that reveal nothing. In the process, the routine of their lives is detailed, as the various suspects and

would-be witnesses who make up much of the story are presented. Fitzgerald, a cop for 30 years, is relentless in his pursuit of criminals. Taylor, who lives in a modest home and kisses his wife good-bye every morning on his way to headquarters, tries to please his superiors and cover up his lack

of experience, but he slowly learns the wily ways of the cop under Fitzgerald's expert tutelage.

Shot completely on location in New York City, THE NAKED CITY chronicles the grim urban landscape and depicts its everyday life and citizens, embracing swank Fifth Avenue, Broadway, kids playing hop-skip-and-jump in the streets, straphangers en route to work and back on the crowded subways. More

than 100 locations were employed, with the brilliant cameraman Daniels shooting most of his scenes from inside a van parked along the streets, using a one-way mirror and tinted windows so that passers-by were oblivious to the camera's presence. In the late 1950s and early 60s, a long-running ABC

TV series used this film's title to show the "slice-of-life" style of drama the original film typified, and also employed Hellinger's postscript in this, his last feature production, a line which became a household phrase: "There are eight million stories in the naked city. This has been one of

them."

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: This superlative film set the pattern for myriad documentary-type dramas to come. Its producer, Hellinger, patterned the tale after the tabloid newspaper stories he wrote in his youth, and he narrates the picture with the same kind of terse but poignant vi… (more)

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