Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Naked City (1948)

* Some films don't age well. This is one of 'em. Despite its status as a crime-drama classic, Jules Dassin's procedural is pretty awful.

* Even cutting the screenplay a lot of slack for presumably inventing many of the cliches it flogs, it's hard to believe that this was nominated for an Oscar back in its day. The super-explanatory voiceover narration, unnecessary as it is, goes a long way towards sinking this all on its lonesome. Write a book while you're at it, fellas.

* Clumsy dialogue isn't helped by stilted acting. It's like an entire cast filled with summer-stock rejects. Worst offenders: The "Midwest" parents of the dead girl. The impression I get is that of a flat-footed play that someone decided to film without really trying to make a movie out of it.

* Authenticity of locations is a big selling point here (this was mostly filmed on location in New York City), which makes it a shame that much of the film is confined to a series of rooms. And the NYC-street scenes end up looking like backlot photography anyway. So, ya know, big fucking whoop.

* Chase climax at the Williamsburg Bridge is pretty keen, pointing towards a confluence of location and action that the rest of the film wishes it was. It's about 80 minutes too late to save the film from itself, though.

* The same guy who made this made Rififi? Really? Damn.

Grade: D+


Blogger Andy Nowicki said...

Steve, it's good to see you're back. Much as I enjoy these obscure reviews of older, lesser-known, lesser-seen movies, I'd really like to hear you're take on the whole ridiculous "'No Country for Old Men'" vs. 'There Will Be Blood'-- which is cooler???" argument among film geeks these days. Any thoughts?

11:51 PM  

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