“There are eight million stories in the Naked City,” as the narrator immortally states at the close of this breathtakingly vivid film—and this is one of them. Master noir craftsman Jules Dassin and newspaperman-cum-producer Mark Hellinger’s dazzling police procedural, The Naked City, was shot entirely on location in New York. As influenced by Italian neorealism as American crime fiction, this double Academy Award winner remains a benchmark for naturalism in noir, living and breathing in the promises and perils of the Big Apple, from its lowest depths to its highest skyscrapers. —The Criterion Collection
Jules Dassin was an Academy Award-nominated director, screenwriter and actor best known for his films Rififi (1955), Never on Sunday (1960), and Topkapi (1964).
He was born Julius Samuel Dassin on 18 December 1911, in Middletown, Connecticut, USA. He was one of eight children of Russian-Jewish immigrants, Samuel Dassin and Berthe Vogel. Young Dassin grew up in Harlem, and he attended Morris High School in the Bronx, graduating in 1929. After taking acting classes in Europe, he returned to New York. In 1934, he became and actor with the ARTEF Players (Arbeter Teater Farband), and was a member of the troupe until 1939. Dassin played character roles in Yiddish, mainly in the plays by Sholom Aleichem. But upon discovering “that an actor I was not,” he switched to directing and writing. At that time, he joined the Communist Party of the United States, but left the party in 1939, he said, disillusioned after the Soviet Union signed a pact with Adolf Hitler… read more
Trend setting and important crime film from producer Hellinger and director Dassin that helped create a style still being co-opted six decades later. Barry Fitzgerald diamonds here as the seasoned detective in a roll played against type. Oscar winning cinematography and editing certainly add to the atmosphere the tight script entails. Use of real locations around New York add a vervacious angle. A gem.
Despite finding Mark Hellinger's narration somewhat annoying at times and Barry Fitzgerald's portrayal of Dan Muldoon more closely resembles a caricature rather than a characterization, "The Naked City" is a great noir and was apparently filmed entirely in New York itself by Dassin. In addition to enjoying the movie itself, I was enthralled by the close up of New York in the late 40s.