Wednesday, July 14, 2010

#380: The Naked City

(Jules Dassin, 1948)

Dassin's best work oozes surreal rebelliousness, but the real appeal of The Naked City is New York in all its splendid reality. The movie is set all over town, but the best scenes are on the lower east side where the murderer lives. Here are boys jumping through the streets, coffee shops on corners, towers stretching above the East River, all tied together with a plot best saved for an episode of early police procedural shows (which, of course, it would be when the film was turned into a long-running series in the early days of television).

When you say Dassin people think Rififi, and The Naked City wouldn't ever change that. But the film is notable for coining the term "There are 8 million stories in the naked city, this has been one of them." And the movie does have a certain clip to its plotting that never seems dull or even less than engaging. So it's a worthy addition to the catalog, and one of Dassin's more notable films.

(btw, the essay on this film is especially strong.)

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