One of the eight million stories…

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.

2 thoughts on “One of the eight million stories…

  1. I really need to revisit this film. I liked it well enough when I first saw it, but it was relatively early in my noir viewing — I’ve harboured a belief for years that, if/when I rewatch it, I’ll love it. (Perhaps that’s why I don’t — I might be proven wrong. Until then, it’s “Schrödinger’s classic movie”.)

    We were shown an episode or two of the spinoff TV series as part of a module for my degree, and I remember those as being pretty good too. Always meant to track down more of the series, but never have. I think we sometimes write off older TV as being “of its time” and not designed to last, but stuff like The Twilight Zone proves that’s not always the case, and I wonder if Naked City would fall into the same bracket.

    1. I’m getting increasingly seduced by 1940s/1950s films, especially noir. They are just made so well, so efficiently paced with good actors with lived-in faces. The women are so gorgeous and the bad ‘uns sure look dangerous. I could do without the insane amount of smoking going on in them mind; its a bit disconcerting watching people slowly killing themselves with booze and cigarettes just as surely as they pretend to with guns.

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