Naked City

Naked City

3.8 6
Director: Jules Dassin

Cast: Barry Fitzgerald, Howard Duff, Dorothy Hart

     
 

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This is one of those discs that benefits more from the generic characteristics of digital video than from any attention to craftsmanship in its production. The Naked City took a long time to get to laserdisc, but it showed up quickly on DVD -- too quickly, based on some of the technical shortcomings of this disc. The movie, made at Universal Pictures but ownedSee more details below

Overview

This is one of those discs that benefits more from the generic characteristics of digital video than from any attention to craftsmanship in its production. The Naked City took a long time to get to laserdisc, but it showed up quickly on DVD -- too quickly, based on some of the technical shortcomings of this disc. The movie, made at Universal Pictures but owned by producer
arrator Mark Hellinger (who died before the film was released), had its problems over the years, mostly in the form of poor preservation. The laserdisc, dating from the mid-'90s, showed the results of a decent mastering effort -- the source still had flaws (especially scratches), which are more obvious on the DVD. Otherwise, the image on the DVD is acceptable, with night scenes that are especially impressive for their detail. The major flaw, as is typical of early DVDs, lies in the audio, which is mastered at so low a level that volume levels have to be tripled normal to get ordinary room-level sound. The audio on the movie is problematic to begin with; having been shot on location in New York, much of the dialogue and general audio was post-synched, and the process is often obvious in the basic film, and made worse from the audio limitations of the DVD. The laserdisc included a commentary track by director Jules Dassin and co-star Don Taylor, which is not available on the DVD; given the limited audio of the existing disc, that might be just as well, although it is frustrating. The low level of the audio also makes it a little more difficult to appreciate Miklos Rozsa's music, some of the most heartfelt and well-realized of his early Hollywood career. The relatively paltry chapter selection and the crude supplementary materials also date this disc badly, and the menu isn't very easy to maneuver around. The main virtue is the ability to watch the movie complete, without side-breaks, and to appreciate the flawless playback, which DVD has all over laserdisc -- that and the beautifully realistic and harrowing night scenes.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Bruce Eder
The Naked City has been hailed -- and rightfully so -- for effecting a transformation in the nature of crime dramas. Its exclusive use of actual New York City locations, coupled with Jules Dassin's fluid direction and the deliberately flat, unaffected acting style used by most of the cast, all lent a verisimilitude and immediacy to the film that was spellbinding in its time and is still bracing to watch. Alfred Werker and Anthony Mann had attempted something similar in 1947 with He Walked By Night, set in Los Angeles, but the results were more engrossing than exciting. Naked City's authentic New York ambience, the visuals playing off of the city's architecture, its streets and alleyways, bridges and rooftops, and its residents, give the movie an intense, intrinsic excitement. This, in turn, allowed Dassin to work out all kinds of quiet little plots and acting bits of business that, in a studio-bound movie, would have slowed the proceedings to a standstill and sent audiences walking to the lobby. Screenwriters Albert Maltz and Malvin Wald knew exactly what they were doing, with a script that provides a continual stream of fascinating information, adding layer upon layer of material for the viewer's benefit, which Dassin and the cast weave into a dazzling tapestry of humanity. The movie proved astonishingly honest and prescient as a mirror of many aspects of human behavior, especially its depiction of the way that the press and the public react to cases involving attractive victims, and also the public's lingering fixation on crime scenes. As a source of inspiration, The Naked City's influence extended for decades after its release, to movies like Force of Evil, The Tattooed Stranger, and Guilty Bystander that came out in its wake; into the late '50s with the film Cop Hater and the television series Naked City; and through the 1960s with films such as Madigan and series such as N.Y.P.D. Although the visual and plot elements must take center stage, anyone watching should also make note of the music and the odd circumstances of its composition. Originally, Dassin chose to use a score composed by a musician friend of his, who, like him, had been dropped by the major studios because of his political views; producer Mark Hellinger agreed, but when he heard the resulting score, he knew that it was no good and that it would have to be rewritten. Hellinger approached Miklos Rozsa, who had scored his previous two films done at Universal, but Rozsa said that the two weeks he had to work with was too short a time for him to rescore the movie by himself; they agreed that Frank Skinner, a member of Universal's music department, would also score part of the film. Hellinger was also the narrator of the movie, and he died of a heart attack soon after recording his closing monologue; Rozsa's contribution was the music accompanying the chase sequence on the Lower East Side and on the Williamsburg Bridge, and underscoring the close of the film, narrated by Hellinger. Rozsa deliberately made the scoring of the latter sequence into a musical eulogy for his friend and colleague Hellinger.

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Product Details

Release Date:
06/29/1999
UPC:
0014381574623
Original Release:
1948
Rating:
NR
Source:
Image Entertainment
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[B&W]
Sound:
[monaural]
Time:
1:36:00

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Barry Fitzgerald Detective Lt. Dan Muldoon
Howard Duff Frank Niles
Dorothy Hart Ruth Morrison
Don Taylor Jimmy Halloran
Ted de Corsia Willie Garzah
Frank Conroy Capt. Donahue
House Jameson Dr. Stoneman
Anne Sargent Mrs. Halloran
Adelaide Klein Mrs. Batory
Grover Burgess Mr. Batory
Tom Pedi Detective Perelli
Enid Markey Mrs. Hylton
William E. Green Man
Raymond Greenleaf City Editor
Bern Hoffman Wrestler
Dave Kerman Actor
Marsha McClelland Actor
Nehemiah Persoff Actor
John Randolph Policeman
Hester Sondergaard Nurse
Grace Coppin Miss Livingston
Amelia Romano Shop Girl
Ralph Simone Old Gentleman
Blanche Obronska Mother
Mark Hellinger Narrator
Curt Conway Nick
Walter Burke Backalis
David Opatoshu Ben Miller
Al Kelley Newsboy
Paul Ford Henry Fowler
Ralph Bunker Dr. Hoffman
George Lynn Fredericks
Arthur O'Connell Shaeffer
Jean Adair Little Old Lady
Nicholas Joy McCormick
Virginia Mullen Martha
Beverly Bayne Mrs. Stoneman
Celia Adler Proprietor
Robert H. Harris Druggist
James Gregory Hicks
Edwin Jerome Publisher
Elliott Sullivan Trainer
Charles P. Thompson Ticket Taker
John Marley Managing Editor
Russ Conway Ambulance Doctor
Joe Kerr Ned Harvey
William Cottrell Bisbee
Mervin Williams Clerk
Judson Laire Publisher
Sarah Cunningham Nurse
Alexander Campbell Policeman
Harris Brown Janitor
Carl Milletaire Young Man
Kathleen Freeman Stout Girl
Lee Shumway Patrolman
Perc Launders Police Photographer
Victor Zimmerman Patrolman
George Sherwood Patrolman
G. Pat Collins Freed

Technical Credits
Jules Dassin Director
Jules Buck Associate Producer
Leslie I. Carey Sound/Sound Designer
William H. Daniels Cinematographer
John De Cuir Art Director
Oliver Emert Set Decoration/Design
Fred Frank Asst. Director
Russell A. Gausman Set Decoration/Design
Mark Hellinger Producer
Grace Houston Costumes/Costume Designer
Albert Maltz Screenwriter
Miklós Rózsa Score Composer
Milton Schwarzwald Musical Direction/Supervision
Frank Skinner Score Composer
Malvin Wald Screenwriter
Paul Weatherwax Editor
Bud Westmore Makeup

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Scene Index

Side #1 --
0. Chapter Selection
1. Main Title; The Pulse Of The City [6:17]
2. A Heavy Case [8:17]
3. Brain Work And Leg Work [4:58]
4. Fishing For Clues [10:34]
5. Two Killers? [4:07]
6. A Parent's Loss [8:11]
7. A Number Of Loose Threads [4:29]
8. Stolen Goods [5:59]
9. Giving The Slip [2:08]
10. Spilling The Beans [5:43]
11. New Evidence [4:44]
12. Searching For Garzah [8:21]
13. A Lamb Led To Slaughter [5:58]
14. Into The Turnbuckle [3:14]
15. Cat And Mouse [10:53]
16. End Credits [1:54]

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