Naked City

Film Review by Michelle Devereaux | 04 Nov 2014
  • Naked City
Film title: Naked City
Director: Jules Dassin
Starring: Dorothy Hart, House Jameson, Anne Sargent, Adelaide Klein, Barry Fitzgerald, Frank Conroy, Ted de Corsia, Grover Burgess, Howard Duff, Don Taylor
Release date: 27 Oct
Certificate: PG

Jules Dassin’s absorbing 1948 potboiler The Naked City is sometimes billed as a film noir. It’s actually much more concerned with the nitty-gritty procedural details of a group of upstanding detectives – in this case, those investigating a particularly salacious murder of a young model in New York – than it is establishing any kind of shadowy tone or antihero allegiance. (If this is noir, it’s the most brightly lit, least antisocial noir ever.)

Inspired by the work of infamous crime scene photographer Weegee, who served as a visual consultant, it also features the pioneering use of real locations as opposed to sets, virtually unheard of in Hollywood at the time. But any semblance of reality is outdone by the film’s delightfully weird, nearly omnipresent voice-over and its expressionistic recreations of the internal monologues of everyday schlubs in the street. Dassin, who would go on to make the classic proto–heist film Rififi, seems as much interested in Hitchcockian flair as he is in naturalism, anyway – no surprise, considering he got his start as Hitch’s assistant. [Michelle Devereaux]