Naked City, The (1948): Oscar-Winning Film Noir from Jules Dassin (Before Blacklist)

Universal-International (Mark Hellinger Productions)

One of director’s Jules Dassin’s best features, “Naked City” is a quintessentially American film noir, a manhunt melodrama, distinguished by great production values.

The tale, from a script by Wald Maltz and Albert Maltz, based on the Oscar-nominated story by Malvin Wald, centers on police lieutenant Dan Muldoon (played by Barry Fitzgerald, better known for his 1944 Oscar role, “Going My Way’) heads the investigation of a young woman’s murder.

At the time, the movie was fresh and got a lot of praise as a result of its on-location shooting and camera work by William Daniels, who won an Oscar for his imagery (so did editor Paul Westherwax).  In its visual vocabulary, “Naked City” became an influential film noir, cherished by future generations of filmmakers.

The secondary cast of the film, which was produced by the legendary theater impresario Mark Hellinger, includes Howard Duff, Don Taylor, Jean Adair, and Arthur O’Connell.

Shelley Winters always joked about the fact that she provided the body for the blond corpse.

William Daniels, who was Garbo’s most frequent and favorite cinematographer, was also Oscar-nominated for “Anna Christie,” “Cat on a Hot Yin Roof” (1958), and “How the West Was Won” (1963) on which he served as one of three photographers.

Oscar Nominations: 3

Motion Picture Story: Malvin Wald

Cinematography (b/w): William Daniels

Film Editing: Paul Weatherwax

Oscar Awards: 2

Cinematography

Film Editing

Oscar Context:

The winners of the Best Motion Picture Story were Richard Schweitzer and David Wechsler for “The Search,” directed by Fred Zinnemann.

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