380. The Naked City

24Sep12

I’m going to start this review with a very philistine comparison, but Jules Dassin’s THE NAKED CITY feels like the original 1948 Law & Order. I love Law & Order, so that’s a compliment, I promise. When a model is found murdered in her apartment, it prompts sensational headlines and an investigation that spans Manhattan. Instead of overdramatizing the search, the film focuses on the day-to-day routine of the detectives, including tedious legwork and interrogations that go nowhere, and punctuated by dry humor and bouts of action. It’s also filled with eccentric and mundane snapshots of New York City life: basically, the formula for Law & Order and countless other crime procedurals that followed. It’s notable that the entire film was shot on location (notable enough that it’s mentioned in the film’s opening), and it shows in the beautiful black and white images of the city’s streets, trains, skyscrapers, and people. I have a definite soft spot for New York City history, and so it’s not a surprise that I enjoyed this film, where the protagonist is the city itself.

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2 Responses to “380. The Naked City”

  1. I didn’t think of it as the precursor to Law and Order, but it pretty much is. I wanted a bit more out of the actual film but I too was quite taken with the premise.

    • I think I’ve watched so many freaking Law & Order episodes, that I felt like I “got” the film right away. The step-by-step police investigation, the snark, the views of city life…even though it wasn’t the most thrilling story, I still found it pretty satisfying.


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