The Sleeping City

  • 1950
  • 1 HR 25 MIN
  • NR
  • Mystery

A surprisingly intense and disturbing look at corruption in a big city hospital starring Conte as a police undercover agent posing as a new intern to investigate the murder of a young physician and the suicide of another. Conte learns that the dead interns were involved in stealing and selling drugs in order to cover their gambling debts. The reprehensible...read more

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A surprisingly intense and disturbing look at corruption in a big city hospital starring Conte as a police undercover agent posing as a new intern to investigate the murder of a young physician and the suicide of another. Conte learns that the dead interns were involved in stealing and

selling drugs in order to cover their gambling debts. The reprehensible activity not only destroys the traditional trust enjoyed by medical personnel, but endangers the lives of patients by depriving them of needed medication. Upon further investigation, Conte discovers that a nurse, Gray, has

also become involved in the drug trade, but only to aid a poor sick child. In the end it is revealed that an elderly elevator operator, Taber, is in fact the evil kingpin of the operation who has been blackmailing the hospital staff to do his bidding. Though Conte has fallen in love with Gray and

has ambivalent feelings regarding her guilt, he turns her over to the police at the end, having become deeply disturbed by the whole bleak experience. The effect of THE SLEEPING CITY is particularly distressing because rarely do crime films situate such a grim and sobering view of society within a

hospital, traditionally looked upon as a place of healing. The neatly starched white gowns and general antiseptic atmosphere of the hospital contrast sharply with the seedy goings-on. The film's view of urban institutions (hospital, police) is one of total cynicism and corruption. Only the Conte

character demonstrates any sense of optimism or honor, but by the end of the film he too is well on the road to hopelessness. When New York City Mayor O'Dwyer voiced a strong protest about the film's portrayal of the city, the studio agreed to insert a prolog in which Richard Conte appears and

states that THE SLEEPING CITY does not seek to condemn any specific American city, but that the action about to unfold could happen in any large city.

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