The Naked City ★★★★

A distant procedural that confirms our worst fears: that committing a murder is as commonplace as going to work in the Big Apple. Right from it's unconventional opening, one gets the sense that this isn't your average noir.
From there director Jules Dassin treats the viewer to shots of workers trudging along in their daily grind. Some going to their factories, some at their desk, some participating in a brutal slaying. It's just clockwork. Like a job, murder is just part of some people's routine. The near banality of the crime is aided by a candid and temperate narrator who is our guide in this lurid tale. He seems to take pleasure in informing the audience that this isn't a basic studio picture. That it is shot on location, as close to reality as it gets. This even-keel approach gives the feeling like this is something he has seen 1,000 times. That in a city of 8,000, sometimes pill-popping power-hungry women get offed. That is just the way it is.
Dassin also taps into the thoughts of the residents of the city. No matter how innocent, hedonistic, or sadistic, they are treated equally. Connected by this city, for better or for worse.
Pre-dating Scorsese and Allen, who are famous for using the city as a character in the story, Dassin also gives the city a prominent role here. From the opening with the Empire States Building, to the parents angrily-sobbing over how their choices may have lead to an untimely death with the Brooklyn Bridge looming in the background, to the breathtaking ending on said bridge, the city seems to have a distinct impact on everyone's actions. In a way, it seems to be the main character.
As one can see this isn't your average noir. Dassin, who would later have a rather tumultuous relationship with Hollywood, takes a lot of chances here and crafts one of the more unique noirs that I have seen.