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The Naked City

The Naked City (1948)


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Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 2
Fresh: 2 | Rotten: 0



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Average Rating: 3.8/5
User Ratings: 3,093

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Movie Info

Young model Jean Dexter is knocked unconscious and drowned in her own bathtub in her Manhattan apartment, and a lot of jewelry that she supposedly owned is missing. The Naked City is actually about six days in the life of New York City that coincide with the murder and the subsequent investigation by Lt. Dan Muldoon (Barry Fitzgerald) and Detective James Halloran (Don Taylor). The account of their work, and the workings of the New York City police department, is interspersed with brief vignettes


Drama, Mystery & Suspense, Classics

Albert Maltz, Malvin Wald

Mar 20, 2007

Universal Pictures

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All Critics (19) | Top Critics (4) | Fresh (12) | Rotten (2) | DVD (8)

A definite parochial fascination is liberally assured all the way and the seams in a none-too-good whodunnit are rather cleverly concealed.

March 25, 2006 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A first-rate police thriller.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The on-location photography and final minutes on the streets and bridge are impressive, but this noir is more memorable for what it inspired to follow it than in its slow talky self.

July 6, 2011 Full Review Source: ReelTalk Movie Reviews
ReelTalk Movie Reviews

One of Jules Dassin's best features is a quintessential film noir, distinguished by its on-location shooting and Daniels' sharp imagery, which deservedly won the Oscar

February 17, 2011 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

Affords the viewer a look at a type of city life that has long since disappeared, giving the film a kind of documentary time-capsule flavor.

May 30, 2007 Full Review Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

What The Naked City does is paint an indelible vision of both the New York City that never sleeps and of the human life and industry that teems within it

March 9, 2007 Full Review Source:

This superlative film set the pattern for myriad documentary-type dramas to come.

August 31, 2006 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

It plays as just another crime episode in a typical homicide detective's day.

May 18, 2004 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Standard plot but the visuals are amazing

April 25, 2003
Lawrence Journal-World

The narration is the only bad thing about an otherwise wonderful [film].

February 28, 2002 Full Review Source: Goatdog's Movies
Goatdog's Movies

Audience Reviews for The Naked City

Crazy cool Weegee-esque 1947 New York exteriors. This movie begins where most film noirs end. Slightly humdrum police procedural but at the time it was a real breakthrough, since imitated by Dragnet and a hundred Jerry Bruckheimer TV shows. There are eight million stories in the naked city and this one ends with a stunning chase sequence on the Williamsburg Bridge.
January 7, 2008

Super Reviewer

Another in a long line of detective films, I can't justifiably call this a noir by any means. Sure, it's certainly gritty and calls upon the same course set of circumstances to show the story, but has none of the dire aspects of noir. Instead of a larger than life language, the detectives all exhibit their own ways, and realism is embedded in every part of this film. This was shot in New York City, and never on sets or lots. It was shot in apartments, on streets and subway tracks, a fact that the narrator of the film proclaims at the start of the film. Besides the fact that this film follows the investigation of a murdered girl, it also takes a quick look into the lives of residents of the city. It's not exactly a love letter to New York, or a condemnation of the many lurid lives that go on during the rush of traffic and the investigations of the police, but it is a wide scope. Throughout a strange kind of narration dubs voices, and fills in the blanks where need be. The story is that of a model who is chloroformed and drowned in her bathtub. Surprisingly the crime itself was showed, and it was amazingly graphic. The look of the film is sleek, shady, and seductively black and white. The actual detectives on the case are varied and at times awkward, but in a good way. The lead detective (Barry Fitzgerald) shows both his professional side as well as his ability to give lessons to beat cop Det. Halloran (Don Taylor). Of all the roles of this film, nothing is dopey except for Halloran, who has playful fights with his wife, lives in Jackson Heights, and is always smiling that same big eared smile throughout the entire film. The plot isn't overly dramatic or contrived in any way, but it's the way it's told, the characters behind the murder that really hold this high in people's mind. My favorite character is the crook Niles (Howard Duff) who lies to everyone, even his fiancee and the cops. He is charismatic, deceitful, and not too bright, but you only feel horror at the depths at which he sinks. It's truly a classic, mostly looking like a documentary about New York at the time, and it would be a shame if you missed it.
March 5, 2012

Super Reviewer

A distant procedural that confirms our worst fears: that committing a murder is as commonplace as going to work in the Big Apple. Right from it's unconventional opening, one gets the sense that this isn't your average noir.
From there director Jules Dassin treats the viewer to shots of workers trudging along in their daily grind. Some going to their factories, some at their desk, some participating in a brutal slaying. It's just clockwork. Like a job, murder is just part of some people's routine. The near banality of the crime is aided by a candid and temperate narrator who is our guide in this lurid tale. He seems to take pleasure in informing the audience that this isn't a basic studio picture. That it is shot on location, as close to reality as it gets. This even-keel approach gives the feeling like this is something he has seen 1,000 times. That in a city of 8,000, sometimes pill-popping power-hungry women get offed. That is just the way it is.
Dassin also taps into the thoughts of the residents of the city. No matter how innocent, hedonistic, or sadistic, they are treated equally. Connected by this city, for better or for worse.
Pre-dating Scorsese and Allen, who are famous for using the city as a character in the story, Dassin also gives the city a prominent role here. From the opening with the Empire States Building, to the parents angrily-sobbing over how their choices may have lead to an untimely death with the Brooklyn Bridge looming in the background, to the breathtaking ending on said bridge, the city seems to have a distinct impact on everyone's actions. In a way, it seems to be the main character.
As one can see this isn't your average noir. Dassin, who would later have a rather tumultuous relationship with Hollywood, takes a lot of chances here and crafts one of the more unique noirs that I have seen.
February 27, 2012
Reid Volk

Super Reviewer

Frank Niles might be one of the dumbest "conmen" to ever grace the silver screen. He's a horrible, unconvincing liar who is caught almost instantly in every lie he tells. It's a shame he has to run up against lieutenant Muldoon and Detective Halloran. Muldoon is a cool character. An irish cop with decades of experience, he breaks down the stories of big liars like Niles like crackers in soup. It seems a model has been murdered, and there's a matter of a stolen box of jewelry from the dead woman's apartment. It adds up to a ring of conspiracy and the hunt for a harmonica-playing wrestler. And dumb Niles with his cheap alibies is right in the middle of it.

As the film opens, narrator Mark Hellinger tells us this film is unlike any we have ever seen. Not shot on a studio sound stage or back lot, The Naked City was filmed on the actual streets of New York City. As good as it sounds on paper, 1948 microphones and recording equipment had difficulty picking up the actors' lines over the noise of the busy city streets. The easy solution, in addition to doing overdubs later in the studio, was to have a narration. This gives the film a certain aire of authenticity (it's been called a "semi-documentary"). There is a gritty realism on display here that one doesn't normally find in the noir films of this period (I wonder just how influential this film was to Jack Webb when he was creating the "Dragnet" series).
February 17, 2012
Mr Awesome
Devon Bott

Super Reviewer

    1. Narrator: There are eight million stories in the naked city. This has been one of them.
    – Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
View all quotes (1)

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Foreign Titles

  • The Naked City - Stadt ohne Maske (DE)
  • The Naked City (1948) (UK)
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