The Naked City ★★★★½

The Naked City is a film noir detective story nestled within a semi-documentary city symphony film. The story, itself, involving a murder of young model, stolen jewelry and an acrobatic wrestler is enjoyable enough (highlighted by a humorous performance from Barry Fitzgerald as Det. Lt. Dan Muldoon), but the cityscape is the main attraction.

This is cinematographer William H. Daniels's film!

The beginning of Jules Dassin's The Naked City features some of the greatest aerial shots of NYC in stunning black-and-white. Actually, just, some of the greatest aerial shots of any city on film, rivaling Henri Alekan's gorgeous black-and-white aerials from Wings of Desire.

Aside from the aerials Daniels also expertly captures the city on the ground once the film's detective narrative gets started coupled with the film's obnoxious narrative which happens to be excessively unnecessary. The narration is provided by the producer Mark Hellinger who needlessly provides dialogue to certain scenes that do not warrant explanation.

Employing strategically placed hidden cameras, Daniels able to capture the city has it lives and breathes. He also displays some technical wizardry towards the end of the film with remarkable camerawork on the Williamsburg Bridge, especially the shots from Willie Garzah's (Ted de Corsia) point-of-view high atop the structure.

There is a short nighttime scene involving a solitary man crossing the street with the camera tilted slightly upwards to showcase a skyscraper perfectly framed by buildings on both sides with a smattering of street lamps - only 2 or 3 seconds long, but those 2 or 3 seconds are perfection.

The story also happens to feature a hilariously stupid criminal by the name of Frank Niles (Howard Duff). The man lies, with no conviction or believability, over and over again; he lies about the smallest details...incessantly. He's such a heel (whatever that means)!

sidenote: The way Ted de Corsia was running from the cops on the Williamsburg Bridge was hilarious! Such flailing form!

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