New York City homicide detectives investigate the murder of a blonde model. They question the dead woman’s acquaintances on streets of Manhattan. Detective lieutenant Dan Muldoon’s squad finds a prime suspect in Brooklyn … This film noir begins with documentary-style shots of the sleeping city streets and residents, moving toward dawn, in an echo of the German experimental film genre known as ‘Querschnittfilme’ or ‘cross-section’ films. An opening voice-over by producer Mark Hellinger informs us that the film we are about to see was shot entirely on location. Cinematographer William Daniels stuck closely to the style of the 1945 book ‘Naked City,’ a photo collection by photographer and crime reporter Weegee (Arthur Fellig). With Weegee himself consulting, The Naked City brought a neo-realistic aspect to film noir before the West Coast’s M (Joseph Losey, 1951). The cinematography was clear and high contrast, ‘photographed by William Daniels […] with a lovely eye for space, size, and light. A visually majestic finish,’ as James Agee put it. Daniels, previously better known for the high-glamour MGM look, won the 1948 Oscar for best black-and-white cinematography.
by Jules Dassin
with Barry Fitzgerald, Howard Duff, Dorothy Hart