One of the most seductive aspects of Jules Dassin’s The Naked City is its extensive (and pioneering at the time) location shoot in New York during 1947. The film captures the hustle and bustle of the city, featuring New Yorkers travelling, shopping, working, attending their own concerns largely (and even entirely, thanks to hidden cameras) ignorant that a film was being shot. As a document of the time, the film is quite priceless, like a window into the past.
Moments catch my attention. Its like the film’s crime drama narrative is an obstacle to the fascinating glimpse of the real lives, the real city. There is a scene early in the film in which Det. Jimmy Halloran (Don Taylor) walks a crowded street in search of clues to a murder. As he does so he almost stumbles over a dog being walked, and behind him we can see an attractive young woman walking in his same direction, screen right and after they cross the road (she reacts irritated by a car that gets too close to her) eventually passing out of shot screen left as Halloran enters a premises. I wonder who she is, who she was, what she was doing, where she was going, and what happened to her, what was her life. Impossible questions to answer. One of the untold eight million stories of this Naked City.