Sunday, February 26, 2023

Jules Dassin's "The Naked City"

The Naked City (1948) is an American film noir directed by Jules Dassin and starring Barry Fitzgerald, Howard Duff, Dorothy Hart, and Don Taylor. The Academy-Award-Winning cinematography was by William H. Daniels. The music is by Miklos Rozsa and Frank Skinner.

The plot concerns the murder of a model who is knocked out by a pair of men with chloroform and then left to drown in her own bathtub. When police arrive on the scene, the medical examiner says the woman was murdered. The search is on for the killers but there are several twists and turns along the journey.

The film was praised for its realism that seems to borrow elements from the Neo Realism movement happening in Italian films.

Jules Dassin (1911 – 2008) was an American film director. He got work as an assistant director at RKO and then moved to M-G-M where he directed short subjects. Dassin directed the film noir classics Brute Force (1947), The Naked City (1948), and Thieves’ Highway (1949). He was blacklisted because of his once being a member of the Communist Party so he left the United States for Europe where remained for the rest of his life. He was married to Greek film actress Melina Mercouri.

Barry Fitzgerald (1888 – 1961) was an Irish stage, film, and television actor. He appeared in many notable films over four decades including Bringing Up  Baby (1938), How Green Was My Valley (1941), Going My Way (1944), None but the Lonely Heart (1944), and The Quiet Man (1952). He was a member of the Abbey Theatre and made his film debut in Juno and the Paycock (1930) directed by Alfred Hitchcock.


The Naked City trivia

  • Most of the scenes filmed in New York City were filmed without people knowing they were being filmed.
  • Producer Mark Hellinger narrated the film; he died of a heart attack before the film was released; he was only 44 years old.
  • After Hellinger’s death, Universal was prepared to scrap the picture. Due to a contract he had with the studio, the film had to be released. It became a big hit and won two Academy Awards.
  • Stanley Kubrick, on assignment from Look magazine, took pictures on the film’s location.
  • The film marked the film debuts of Ted de Corsia, Kathleen Freeman, James Gregory, and Nehemiah Persoff.
  • Barry Fitzgerald was 5’3” and the minimum height requirement for policemen at the time of filming was 5’9”.


To watch the film on YouTube, click on the link below.

To join the discussion on March 6, 2023, 6:30 p.m. Central Time, click here. Once you RSVP, you’ll receive and invitation with a link to join the discussion on Zoom.


Discussion questions

  1. The film was acclaimed for its realism; did the film seem realistic to you?
  2. Some have tagged The Naked City as a film noir. Would you agree with this classification?
  3. Producer Mark Hellinger narrated the film. Did you think the narration enhanced the film?
  4. What did you think of the performances? Did anyone stand out to you?
  5. Did the movie remind you of any other films you’ve seen? 

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