Sunday, November 20, 2005

Day 8: "The Naked City"

Director: Jules Dassin 1948
Shot on location, this film offers a semi-documentary look at what Manhattan and its environs were like post World War ll. The movie follows a dogged team of cops as it tries to solve a young woman’s murder (think the “Law” part of “Law & Order”). There is a terrific climactic chase through lower Manhattan and onto the Williamsburg Bridge. The director would later bring a similar on-location flair to “Night and the City” (London) and “Rififi” (Paris). Dassin was never a critical favorite. Andrew Sarris relegated him to the Strained Seriousness section of Sarris’ 1968 book, “The American Cinema.” Strained Seriousness described directors who were “talented but uneven . . . with the mortal sin of pretentiousness.” Others lumped in this group were Stanley Kubrick and John Frankenheimer. “The Naked City” isn’t pretentious. And it does give us one of the great movie lines (later repeated every week on the TV series of the same name): “There are eight million stories in the naked city—this has been one of them.”


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