BP Quick Hitter: The Naked City (1948)

Of all the bridges in all the world, they had to walk on to mine.

Directed by Jules Dassin

Written by Marvin Wald and Albert Maltz

Starring Barry Fitzgerald and Howard Duff

This landmark cop film received the Criterion Collection treatment, but it’s charms were fairly lost on me. It virtually invented the police procedural, and that’s likely why it feels so familiar. It’s plays out like a Law and Order episode with an action climax involving (of all things) a chase on the Brooklyn Bridge.

They’re tropes now, but the film was a monster hit when it was released. And its documentary-style mise en scene was chiefly the reason why. Its most bizarre element involves a voiceover narration from the film’s producer, Mark Hellinger, that was jarringly at odds with the realistic portrayal of New York City. It completely takes the viewer out of the movie.

Barry Fitzgerald, playing his standard wise, winkin’ Irishman, grew on me. At first, he seemed all wrong for the role as the senior detective, but the movie took place in a Manhattan where ethnicity played a larger role than now. And when movies still liked to use people over 50 as lead characters.

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