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Naked City - Criterion Collection

4.3 out of 5 stars 70 customer reviews

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(Mar 20, 2007)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

A New York police detective cracks the case of a blonde found slain in a tub. Directed by Jules Dassin.

Additional Features

Criterion's edition of this 1948 police procedural provides a beautiful digital transfer of a stunning-looking film, plus a handful of supporting materials. The biggest historical value comes from a 40-minute 2004 on-stage interview with director Jules Dassin, who speaks to an audience after an L.A. screening of Rififi. Poor technical quality only marginally detracts from the valuable anecdotes about his career, including stories about The Naked City and Dassin's blacklisting during the anti-Communist era. Also heard from here is screenwriter Malvin Wald, who provides commentary during the film, in which he emphasizes the film's unusual ensemble structure and the pioneering nature of shooting in real locations in New York City. A standout interview comes from architect James Sanders, author of Celluloid Skyline, whose 26-minute talk proves him a more evocative film critic than many film critics. NYU professor Dana Polan gives a half-hour background on the film's style and its prefiguring of TV procedurals such as Dragnet and Law and Order. A booklet has a Luc Sante essay (firmly but gently asserting that the film is very good but not a masterpiece) and a memo from producer Mark Hellinger. One note: the box promises a theatrical trailer, but this is not included, unless it's hidden in the urban jungle. --Robert Horton

Special Features

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer
  • Commentary by screenwriter Malvin Wald
  • A new video interview with NYU film professor Dana Polan
  • An analysis of the film's New York locations by Celluloid Skyline author James Sanders
  • Footage from director Jules Dassin's 2003 appearance at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art
  • Stills gallery
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Booklet with a new essay by Luc Sante and production notes from producer Mark Hellinger to Dassin

Product Details

  • Actors: Barry Fitzgerald, Howard Duff, Dorothy Hart, Don Taylor, Frank Conroy
  • Directors: Jules Dassin
  • Writers: Albert Maltz, Malvin Wald
  • Producers: Jules Buck, Mark Hellinger
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: March 20, 2007
  • Run Time: 96 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000M2E3GI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,082 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Naked City - Criterion Collection" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
I can't remember another movie that took as many chances as THE NAKED CITY and successfully pulled it off. It doesn't look quite like any movie I've seen before and doesn't play quite like any other movie.
The story is simply enough - a young model is found murdered and the Homicide Squad is called in to solve the case.
Even before the murder, though, we're introduced to something new. We're given and aerial sweep and pan shot of the skyline of New York City. A voice over narrator emphatically tells us that this movie was NOT photographed in a studio; the stars perform "in the streets, in the apartment houses, in the skyscrapers of New York City itself." And so it is. No matter how well the set is designed, you can usually spot it as quickly as you can CG animation, and this ALL looks like NYC to me.
The casting is out of the ordinary, as well. I mean, Barry Fitzgerald as top-star in a crime story? Come on. Get serious. Yeah, maybe if you want a pleasant little slightly inebriated Irish chap - but a homicide detective? Yeah, right.
But it works. Fitzgerald is just right as Lt. Daniel Muldoon because this movie doesn't rely on Mike Hammer-ish brutality, or a brilliant and intuitive crime solver. I think the film makers here were looking for a cast who could meld into the city rather than rise above it, and Fitzgerald is a surprising and inspired choice.
This is a movie about dusting for fingerprints and putting evidence in plastic bags. It's about wearing out shoes interviewing potential witnesses and striking out 90% of the time. The Fitzgerald character works because he fits into the world better than a major star would have. The film-makers seem to be striving for a documentary feel to things (I trying not to use the term cinema veritie here).
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Format: VHS Tape
There are two styles of Film Noir. Fueled by writers like James M. Cain, Dashiell Hammett, and Raymond Chandler, the first style emerged in the 1940s and was characterized by a cynical, often witty tone; anti-heroes, dangerous women, and assorted criminal elements; and complex plots that emphasized betrayal and moral ambiguity. It was also photographed in a remarkable visual style that combined glossy production values with atmospheric emphasis on light and shadow--and films like THE MALTESE FALCON, THIS GUN FOR HIRE, MILDRED PIERCE, THE BLUE DAHLIA, and DOUBLE INDEMNITY remain great classics of their kind.

But after World War II public taste began to change. Things that could only be hinted at in earlier films could now be more directly stated, and as audiences clamored for a more gritty realism the glossy sophistication of 1940s Noir fell out of fashion. The result was a new style of Noir--photographed in a grainier way, more direct, more brutal, and even less sympathetic to its characters. And the 1948 THE NAKED CITY was among the first to turn the tide. The sophisticated gumshoe, slinky gun moll, and glossy production values were gone; this film felt more like something you might read in a particularly lurid "true detective" tabloid.

In an era when most films were shot on Hollywood backlots, THE NAKED CITY was actually filmed in New York--and while filmmakers could film with hidden cameras sound technology of the day posed a problem. But producer Mark Hellinger turned the problem into an asset: the film would be narrated, adding to the documentary-like style of the cinematography and story. (Hellinger performed the narrative himself, and his sharp delivery is extremely effective.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Between 1947 and 1950, director Jules Dassin shot three revolutionary movies that shook the film noir genre. THE NAKED CITY is one of them and remains, 52 years (!) after its theatrical release, a classic not to be forgotten. The film was shot, for its most part, in the streets of New-York City and on location in real flats or apartments. Just consider that Howard Hawks's THE BIG SLEEP was shot one year before and you will have an idea why Hollywood has been called " The Dream Factory ". The reality depicted in Hollywood movies had nothing to do anymore with real life.
Some critics have compared THE NAKED CITY with the realist italian movies of this period, with Vittorio de Sica's THE BICYCLE THIEF for instance. Anyway, the final chase which will end on the Brooklyn bridge is already part of Movie History.
Jules Dassin's interest for social questions can be observed in various scenes of THE NAKED CITY : Howard Duff's desperate efforts to join the high society, the enlightening story of the murdered girl, the constant opposition between the world of the workers and the world of the rich.
Audio and images are of VHS quality and the master was not of the highest quality. Filmographies of Jules Dassin and Barry Fitzgerald as bonus features.
A DVD for your library if you're a film noir fan.
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Format: DVD
... it's a GREAT film. Gritty, noir and very effective.

My father, John De Cuir, was the Art Director on this film and I remember his recounting the cast and crew adventures of shooting an "on location" film at that time.

Also, I recall his account of how he stayed up all night the night before the bridge shoot, hand drawing each story-board angle of that famous last chase scene (it was a "new" ending to the script), and figuring out how to position the camera to achieve those extreme angles so they would not waste a moment of their "stolen" limited time on that bridge. It had to be so exciting and freeing for them to film entirely on location.

The Academy did a tribute to him at the Director's Guild a few years back and screened this film as an example of his "early" black and white work and THE KING AND I as a very different example of his contrasting work Cinemascope in musicals.

Fascinating and pioneering stuff for that time.

Go Pop! Brag. brag.
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Topic From this Discussion
film noir, Blu-ray
My guess is out of touch Hollywood thinks nobody wants to see film noir
Jun 16, 2012 by Rev John |  See all 2 posts
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