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Naked City - Criterion Collection (1948)

Barry Fitzgerald , Howard Duff , Jules Dassin  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)

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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.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: March 20, 2007
  • Run Time: 96 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000M2E3GI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #29,350 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Naked City - Criterion Collection" on IMDb

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

Editorial Reviews

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

Product Description

"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 was shot entirely on location in New York City, as influenced by Italian neorealism as American crime fiction. A double Academy Award–winner, The Naked City 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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
59 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dear God, why wasn't she born ugly? May 2, 2004
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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69 of 73 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Turning Point In Film Noir Style May 26, 2004
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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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SOMEWHERE UNDER THE RAINBOW April 27, 2000
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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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yeah, I am prejudiced but .. March 6, 2007
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great! Thank you!
Published 10 days ago by T. Detroit
5.0 out of 5 stars Exactly What Film Noir Is.
Viewed: 6/14
Rate: 10

6/14: Crime pictures come and go without much of a notice. Many of them are so run-of-the-mill that the end result hardly matters. Read more
Published 21 days ago by Austin Somlo
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Movie
This is a great movie for the money and I would highly recommend it. This is a really great movie.
Published 1 month ago by billyh
5.0 out of 5 stars None
not applicable at this time. good movie good actors good story it couldn't be improved upon for it's time period
Published 3 months ago by Lurch 57
5.0 out of 5 stars "The Naked City" (1948) is the all-time best New York movie.
Mark Hellinger's narration was classic and Jules Dassin again proved his mettle as a great "film noir" director. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Vintage Richard
5.0 out of 5 stars Criterion copy of The Naked City is a winner.
I used to watch the TV series in the late '50s and early '60s and one night on the Late show this original film was on and I really enjoyed it. Read more
Published 6 months ago by M. Kenny
5.0 out of 5 stars Time Capsule masterpiece
One if the all-time great crime dramas. Shot in New York in 1948 documentary-noir style. Lyrical writing, brilliant cinematography. Stunning.
Published 6 months ago by Mark Graham
5.0 out of 5 stars Very well done
This was my first experience with this film and my wife and I loved it. It is really different from the 40ties films that I have watched. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Rocky
5.0 out of 5 stars AMERICAN NEOREALISM
This murder mystery is definitely one of the best American movies ever made and ranks up there with films like High Noon. Read more
Published 8 months ago by The Curmudgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars The Naked City-The Way We Were
The setting is Pre-Television, Pre-Video game NYC. With great narration the story is told of a murder and the world of crime solving sans Smart Phones, DNA analysis, and a camera... Read more
Published 10 months ago by david brown
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My guess is out of touch Hollywood thinks nobody wants to see film noir
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