On this day, March 4, 1948, The Naked City was released in theaters. The story of a model who's found dead in her bathtub introduced a new style of film-making. The tone was set from the opening scene as the film's producer introduces himself and addresses the moviegoers directly. As he speaks, we fly over a great metropolis, New York City...The Naked City.
The gritty realism of the movie resembled a documentary almost as much as a fictional story of murder. It won two Oscars, for Film Editing and Cinematography.
The feel of the film was inspired by Arthur Fellig, a photographer famous for his black and white shots of the city. Better known by his nickname Weegee, he consulted on The Naked City, which took it's title from one of the photographer's photo books. Italian neorealism also influenced the style.
The great Barry Fitzgerald played the main detective, Dan Muldoon. Born in Dublin, Ireland, his Irish accent and humor lent an air of authenticity to his role as a New York City cop. His partner, Jimmy Halloran, was played by Don Taylor. But the most important character was the city itself, and its people.
The film inspired a television series of the same name, and it ran from 1958 until 1963.
You can read the movie review from March 5, 1948 at The New York Times.
To see some of the actual locations that were featured in the movie and how they appear today, clickety-click here.
"There are 8 million stories in The Naked City. This has been one of them."
- Mark Hellinger