BluRay/DVD Reviews

THE NAKED CITY

By • Jun 29th, 1999 •

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(Image Entertainment) 1948

Connecticut born Jules Dassin began his career in New York, and THE NAKED CITY, his most exciting American film, reflects his love of the city. In fact, this film begins like a light-hearted documentary of New York; it’s narrator (Producer Mark Hellinger) targets fun details only the New York nightlife can have. Then, we move into the film’s story. Streetwise but sweet Detective Muldoon (Barry Fitzgerald) and a rookie to the force (Don Taylor) investigate the murder of a young model. Their investigation takes them, and us, through the actual sights and sounds of post World War II Manhattan.

Cinematographer William Daniels used newly developed portable lights to shoot on location. In fact, most of the film was shot on location. Now, finally on DVD, you can see the marvelous detail Dassin’s and Daniels’ camera picks up on city streets, subway platforms, offices, and stores. Film fans will enjoy keeping their eyes peeled for cameos of past and future stars in THE NAKED CITY. One can spot Enid Markey (Tarzan’s first cinematic “Jane”), comedian Paul Ford, future stars James Gregory (as a cop), John Marley, John Randolph, Arthur O’Connell, Nehemiah Persoff and Yiddish Theatre icon Molly Picon (in a funny bit as a lower east side whistle-blower “Sir, youse don’t vant your root beer?”). According to Internet rumor, another extra is teenaged Stanley Kubrick (According to the book STANLEY KUBRICK, A LIFE IN PICTURES, Kubrick was on Dassin’s set as a Look Magazine Photographer.)

The dazzling location photography is the centerpiece of THE NAKED CITY, but Dassin gives us a centerpiece on top of that centerpiece. The killer is found, and a chase to the top of the Williamsburgh Bridge climaxes the picture. Every camera angle accents either the texture of the bridge or the Manhattan skyline behind the tense confrontation. William Daniels won an Oscar for his work on THE NAKED CITY, and rightfully so. Screenwriter Albert Maltz was one of the blacklisted Hollywood Ten. Like Dassin, his career suffered setbacks. During and after the witch-hunt, Dassin went to Europe and made unique crime thrillers such as NIGHT AND THE CITY (in England), and RIFIFI (in France) His wonderful 1960 Greek comedy, NEVER ON SUNDAY, starred his second wife.


Credits:
Directed by Jules Dassin
Produced by Mark Hellinger
Written by Marvin Wald and Albert Maltz

Cast:
Barry Fitzgerald, Don Taylor, Howard Duff, Dorothy Hart,

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