Skip to content

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Movie Challenge…….The Naked City (1948)

NakedCityPoster

Here’s a title proposed to me by movie pal Kristina at Speakeasy as part of our monthly Mad Movie Challenge. It’s one of those films that for some strange reason I had never seen despite loving the genre of Noir and gangsters. So after seeing it I realize there is much to like here but at the same time there is one thing I would love to change if I could.

Director Jules Dassin offers us along with producer Mark Hellinger a departure from the standard films of the day by taking us on a location shoot in New York. This turns out to be a strong point for the film in both action and how the story unfolds. Producer Hellinger does double duty here as the films narrator and for the opening credits actually tells us who is in the film and some of the credited people behind the scenes. That’s different!

To get our plot kick started look no further than Ted de Corsia and an accomplice committing a murder that for 1948 is actually more suggestive than is usual for the era. Cut to one of my favorite scene stealers, Barry Fitzgerald who is cast here against type as the detective on the case. With rookie partner Don Taylor in tow they methodically go over the murder scene unlike any film of it’s day. Once again another example of how the makers of this film were going for realism.

Dassin includes many scenes not usually shown in films at this time. Scenes such as the breakdown of a mother identifying her daughter at the morgue. Strong stuff then and still holds power today. Outdoor scenes of children playing in the spray from a fire hydrant. Everyday life in the big city.

Naked-City-bw-still-1551-29

So with pipe in hand, Barry Fitzgerald is once again after his old friend Joseph P. McGillicuddy. His pet name for unidentified suspects. Barry would almost seem naked without that pipe for a prop. Howard Duff turns up as a key suspect and along with his love interest Dorothy Hart send Barry on a twisting road to find de Corsia and the reasons behind the murder of a beautiful young woman.

Dassin and Hellinger were just coming off another film with “realism” as a character. Burt Lancaster’s hard hitting prison film Brute Force. Sadly Hellinger would die upon the completion of this film leaving Dassin alone to film another realistic film the following year, Thieves Highway.

Faces to watch for here in small roles are Arthur O’Connell, James Gregory and Kathleen Freeman in her film debut. I never thought she could look so young. Don’t forget to savor Barry Fitzgerald singing an Irish tune while making his breakfast in his undershirt. A real pro. As for Ted de Corsia, it’s films like this that solidified his career path as a heavy. He’s that good.

naked_suspect

Now I mentioned in my opening statement about changing one thing if I could. The narration. I would delete it. Perhaps if it was a voice over from an actual character I could live with it but it’s producer Hellinger and I don’t feel it is needed. Perhaps if George Lucas bought the rights to the film he would make it happen as he just loves to tinker with films over and over and over……just so long as he leaves the film’s final image as it’s a classic.

Don’t forget to checkout Speakeasy for Kristina’s challenge on a Fritz Lang favorite.

4 Comments »

  1. nice, I think like anything “first” of a style or genre, and this would count as a first for the docu-procedural, it can seem stiff and almost primitive to us, after we’ve lived with all the stuff that it influenced, and things that are now almost cliches but were new back then. Voice over can be tricky, it can date a movie. But like you said this one still stands up due to great performances, Ted DeCorsia is so good you’re right! The crime tales a back seat to the investigation and the cast.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

"DESTROY ALL FANBOYS!"

Smashing System Bias Since 1972...

Movies ala Mark

With a Cast of Thousands

Classic Horrors

From silent screen to Halloween, and everything scary in between.

IDENTIKIT

The current online container for the writer Konrad Wardh

Just Hit Play

The Good, the Bad and sometimes Ugly in film

Strother Martin Film Project

What we've got here is failure to communicate

Sophia Riley Kobacker

it's all about the story, possums...

Wolfmans Cult Film Club

Cult, B-Movies, cheesy fun films to Film Noir to classics new to me.

Talking Pulp

All things pulp and then some

cinema cities

a personal odyssey through film

Mark David Welsh

Watching the strangest movies - so you don't have to...

Scenes from the Morgue

The Lost Art of Pulp Ads: Film, Booze, Smokes & More!

Film Speech

All things film and television

Diary of A Movie Maniac

A Personal Journey Through Cinema & Television

portraitsbyjenni

My perspective on life & Classic Movie Recommendations

Statis Pro 1978 Replay

Methodically replaying every game of the 1978 baseball season!

4 Star Films

Looking deeper at the best classic movies

everythingnoir

Movies, Television, Books....Everything Noir

Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more)

by John Bengtson "the great detective of silent film locations" New York Times

Sister Celluloid

Where old movies go to live

Silent-ology

Uncovering the silent era

Canadian Cinephile

"The only way to get rid of my fears is to make films about them." - Alfred Hitchcock

Noirish

The annex to John Grant's *A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Film Noir*

Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

Sunset Boulevard

Writings of a Cinephile

The Bogie Film Blog

A Film by Film Affair with Humphrey Bogart

Vienna's Classic Hollywood

Vintage Hollywood films and stars

The Film Authority

You're ten seconds from watching an amazing film...

Once upon a screen...

...a classic film and TV blog

shadowsandsatin

. . where the worlds of film noir and pre-code collide . .

hitchcockmaster

Where Suspense Lives!

Tipping My Fedora

Enjoying mystery, crime and suspense in all media

Silver Screenings

an irreverent blog of old movies

monsterminions

They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To

Comet Over Hollywood

Home for classic movie lovers

filmgeek101

classic movie views for the classic and not-so-classic movie fan

Riding the High Country

Reviews and ramblings

Speakeasy

watching movies

"DESTROY ALL FANBOYS!"

Smashing System Bias Since 1972...

Movies ala Mark

With a Cast of Thousands

Classic Horrors

From silent screen to Halloween, and everything scary in between.

IDENTIKIT

The current online container for the writer Konrad Wardh

Just Hit Play

The Good, the Bad and sometimes Ugly in film

Strother Martin Film Project

What we've got here is failure to communicate

Sophia Riley Kobacker

it's all about the story, possums...

Wolfmans Cult Film Club

Cult, B-Movies, cheesy fun films to Film Noir to classics new to me.

Talking Pulp

All things pulp and then some

cinema cities

a personal odyssey through film

Mark David Welsh

Watching the strangest movies - so you don't have to...

Scenes from the Morgue

The Lost Art of Pulp Ads: Film, Booze, Smokes & More!

Film Speech

All things film and television

Diary of A Movie Maniac

A Personal Journey Through Cinema & Television

portraitsbyjenni

My perspective on life & Classic Movie Recommendations

Statis Pro 1978 Replay

Methodically replaying every game of the 1978 baseball season!

4 Star Films

Looking deeper at the best classic movies

everythingnoir

Movies, Television, Books....Everything Noir

Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more)

by John Bengtson "the great detective of silent film locations" New York Times

Sister Celluloid

Where old movies go to live

Silent-ology

Uncovering the silent era

Canadian Cinephile

"The only way to get rid of my fears is to make films about them." - Alfred Hitchcock

Noirish

The annex to John Grant's *A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Film Noir*

Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

Sunset Boulevard

Writings of a Cinephile

The Bogie Film Blog

A Film by Film Affair with Humphrey Bogart

Vienna's Classic Hollywood

Vintage Hollywood films and stars

The Film Authority

You're ten seconds from watching an amazing film...

Once upon a screen...

...a classic film and TV blog

shadowsandsatin

. . where the worlds of film noir and pre-code collide . .

hitchcockmaster

Where Suspense Lives!

Tipping My Fedora

Enjoying mystery, crime and suspense in all media

Silver Screenings

an irreverent blog of old movies

monsterminions

They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To

Comet Over Hollywood

Home for classic movie lovers

filmgeek101

classic movie views for the classic and not-so-classic movie fan

Riding the High Country

Reviews and ramblings

Speakeasy

watching movies

%d bloggers like this: