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This review originally appeared in issue 13 of THE CINEMA LASER.

 

THE NAKED CITY

"There are 8 million stories in the naked city, this has been one of them" so goes the now infamous tag line spoken by producer Mark Hellinger. THE NAKED CITY ($50) was a milestone in film history and has been presented for the first time as a collector's edition by The Roan Group. This film noir thriller was the first film to be completely shot on the streets of New York City. It is also the first film to accurately represent the police procedures involved with a criminal investigation. THE NAKED CITY was the archetype for all the realistic police films and television programs that followed it.

THE NAKED CITY has a documentary quality which makes the story both gritty and realistic, while never loosing the punch of motion picture entertainment. The plot of THE NAKED CITY follows the homicide investigation of a beautiful young model. THE NAKED CITY allows the audience to experience the slow and methodical way in which crimes are solved. From the gathering of evidence, to the interrogation of suspects, and to the tedious and un­glamorous leg work of following leads. Director Jules Dassin uses the New York City locations to excellent effect. New York is beautiful, glamorous, dirty, cold and real­ all at the same time. The climatic chase across the Williamsburg bridge is a prime example of why THE NAKED CITY won Academy Awards for cinematography (William Daniels) and film editing (Paul Weatherwax). Barry Fitzgerald turns in one of his finest performances as the senior homicide detective assigned to the case. The rest of the cast of THE NAKED CITY are equally impressive, and it features Howard Duff, Dorothy Hart, Don Taylor, Ted De Corsia, House Jameson, Paul Ford, Arthur O'Connell, James Gregory and Kathleen Freeman.

THE NAKED CITY has been given a very good black and white transfer, which is usually very sharp and has excellent contrast. The film element used for the transfer is in good shape most of the time, but there are instances of scratches and other markings, primarily at reel changes. The digital monaural soundtrack has some minor distortions, but the dialogue always remains clear and intelligible. The Pioneer pressing was relatively clean.

To supplement this release, The Roan Group has included two audio commentaries. On analogue track one is writer Malvin Wald. Wald's commentary is terrific, and gives the viewer an enormous amount of detail as how this project went from an idea to a finished film. Wald also draws comparisons between THE NAKED CITY and some of today's best television police dramas (N.Y.P.D. BLUE and LAW AND ORDER). On analogue track two is actor Don Taylor. Taylor's commentary is less focused and consists primarily of his reminiscences of the film. Unfortunately, some of Taylor's memories seem to be at odds with those of Wald. THE NAKED CITY also features a still gallery, which is presented slide show fashion, underscored with Miklos Rozsa's music from the film. THE NAKED CITY is an important and entertaining film which many collectors will want to add to their libraries.

 
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Laserdisc reviews are Copyright © 1996 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.


 

 

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