Monday, September 21, 2009

Noir! The Naked City

"There are eight million stories in the naked city. . ."
What a strange little movie this is. It was released in 1948, and came in at the end of film noir. What it reminds me most of is Law & Order, of all things. Shot completely on location in New York City, The Naked City follows the police investigation of a young blonde model. There's a seasoned older cop, a younger green cop. There's surprisingly modern crime scene investigation. It gets a bit slow and tedious through the middle, but then I would imagine that police detective work is mostly comprised of slow and tedious work.
What makes this movie interesting is how New York City becomes a character in the film, because of the way it's shot and the use of so many extras providing "local color." The cinematography is documentary-like and fabulous. A great portrait of a complicated city in the late 1940's.
The other thing I really loved about the movie is the voice-over narration. Sometimes, that can kill the momentum of a plot in a film, but here that omniscient voices adds a certain witty and wise commentary when the going gets a little boring.
Do you like gritty, realistic police drama? Do you like Law & Order? Then I highly recommend this to you. Not so noir, but a wonderful time capsule view of New York sixty years ago. Plus, they call women "dames" quite a bit. Why does that make me so happy? I want to be a dame!

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