While the City Sleeps (1955)
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When media mogul Amos Kyne (Robert Warwick) dies, his business, which includes a major newspaper, a television station, and a wire news service, is turned over to his sole heir, his foppish, ne'er do well son (Vincent Price). The younger Kyne has no knowledge of how to run the company his father built, preferring to spend his time spending the money that it generates, and he decides to let the heads of the three divisions -- newspaper editor John Day Griffith (Thomas Mitchell), wire service chief Mark Loving (George Sanders), and photo chief Harry Kritzer (James Craig) -- fight it out among themselves, winner-take-all. Each one has a key alley: Griffith, in Edward Mobley (Dana Andrews), a top reporter who is lately appearing on television as well; Loving, in resourceful but sluttish columnist Mildred Donner (Ida Lupino), who has her own way of digging up secrets; and Kritzer, who doesn't think he needs to dig up secrets because he's sitting on the biggest one of all, his "friendship" with Kyne's ex-model wife, Dorothy (Rhonda Fleming). Mobley becomes a focal point because the story-of-the-moment concerns the "Lipstick Killer," a serial murderer, burglar, and sex fiend who has been terrorizing the city -- break that case first and the job is won, and Mobley's specialty is crime reporting. The Lipstick Killer, a disturbed teenager named Robert Manners (John Drew Barrymore), continues to elude the police, and Loving's stumbling attempts to get information out first don't aid in the manhunt. Meanwhile, Mobley, using his own deductive powers and some basic psychology, manages to get under the killer's skin from afar on television and in print; however, unbeknownst to the reporter, the murderer is feeling more pressure to commit his crimes, and taking a very personal interest in targeting Mobley and his fiancée, Nancy Liggett (Sally Forrest). The two interwoven stories all get pulled together in a chase through the streets and into the city's subway tunnels, with Mobley, Nancy, Police Lieutenant Kaufman (Howard Duff), and the killer all crossing paths. … More
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Critic Reviews for While the City Sleeps
Plot intricacies are deftly interwoven, with director Fritz Lang doing a topflight job of balancing the ingredients without dragging the pace.
While this journalistic jamboree is more flamboyant than probable, a tight and sophisticated script by Casey Robinson and a clutch of professional performances make While the City Sleeps a diverting and workmanlike fiction.
Lang's finest film since The Big Heat and his last great success, While the City Sleeps is a crime drama sending its lead actors on a twisted, dog-eat-dog journey into the underworld in their quest for success.
This thriller about the battle for control of a newspaper is quite intriguing and boasts a starry cast.
Although you could run a horse and carriage through the plot, the dialogue isn't bad.
Harsh, leering, implausible and fascinating -- it's the type of yarn that might have been dramatized in 'The Strangler,' the fictional dime horror comic that is the favorite reading matter of the story's over-aged j.d. 'mama's boy' murderer.
One of Fritz Lang's last and best American film noir, the plot is complex and involving, and the visual style clear and extremely effective
It may not be in the same league as Metropolis, M or The Big Heat, but there are enough interesting elements to make it worthy of rediscovery.
Inventive as both a crime thriller, and a look at the omnipresent modern media.
Good Lang noir.
Lang, the master of this kind of material, crafts a gripping, fast-moving neo-noir -- one of the best films of his late period.
Audience Reviews for While the City Sleeps
While the City Sleeps is a decent Fritz Lang movie that for the most part manages to blend a murder mystery with a movie about the newspaper business. Vincent Price does well enough as the vacuous and generally clueless inheritor of a newspaper that chums the waters with a promotion between the 3 main horses in the running. The romantic storyline between Dana Andrews and Sally Forrest got a little annoying and overall, the cast was pretty good even if George Sanders and Ida Lupino were grossly underused. Regardless, Lang pulled it together at the end even if it did fall out of orbit for most of the 3rd act.More
In "While the City Sleeps," Edward Mobley(Dana Andrews) is left with the tough job of having to announce the death of Amos Kyne(Robert Warwick), the owner of Kyne Media and his boss, on his nightly newscast. That leaves the company in the less than capable hands of Amos' playboy son Walter(Vincent Price) who does not inspire his new employees. At least, he realizes his shortcomings by announcing the new position of Executive Director which he makes a contest between Mark Loving(George Sanders), John Day Griffith(Thomas Mitchell) and Harry Kritzer(James Craig). So, the spoils go to whoever reveals the identity of the lipstick killer(John Barrymore Jr.).
"While the City Sleeps" is an entertaining movie performed with aplomb by a marvelous cast(not forgetting Ida Lupino and who could?) that owes more than a little debt to King Lear in its division of a kingdom.(And a character also references Macbeth.) And director Fritz Lang is certainly in his element here, again exploring civic responsibility with newspapers and related media in a free society that cannot properly function if they work entirely out of self-interest, as depicted here. As Amos puts it, a newspaper allows the citizens to make up their own mind while at the same time he puts the lipstick killer on the front page to scare everybody. Even though there is a killer on the loose, that's no reason to panic. And it is certainly no reason to take a cheap shot at comic books even in the wake of organized hysteria.
A pretty decent film noir from Fritz Lang. While not nearly as massive a film as say M or Metropolis, this is still a very well done film, even if it isn't perfect. This is part murder mystery and part a movie about the newspaper buisiness and to be honest I kinda would have prefered if they had chosen one or the other to focus on, preferably the murder mystery as I found that to be the most interesting aspect of this. The love story on the side I could have done without altogether. Vincent Price is in this as the useless son, who has inhearited this newspaper comapny from his recently deceased father, without having any clue of how to actually run a newspaper company. He's good in his role. I also liked the kid who played 'the Lipstick Killer'. All in all a good film, that has some minor flaws but is worth watching for fans of Fritz Lang or Film Noir in general.More
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