Written by: Michael Den Boer on November 21st, 2014
BluRay released: October 27th, 2014
Approximate running times: 96 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1 aspect ratio / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 15 (UK)
Sound: LPCM Mono English
Subtitles: English SDH
BluRay Release: Arrow Academy
Region Coding: Region B / Region 2 PAL (UK)
Retail Price: £15.99 (UK)
Synopsis: Detectives Muldoon and Halloran investigate the murder of an ex-model whose corpse was found in her bathtub.
The Naked City was directed by Jules Dassin whose other notable films include, Brute Force and Rififi. Key collaborators include cinematographer William H. Daniels whose work of The Naked City would win him the Oscar for Best Cinematography, Black-and-White and screenwriter Malvin Wald (Outrage, Venus in Furs).
Structurally this film has a straight forward narrative that follows round a detective as he collects clues which bring him closer to capturing his suspect. And to help aide the viewer in this ongoing investigation is a voice over narration that helps shape the evidence as it is acquired. With that being said, though there is a simplicity to the way that the events in this film unfold. The end result is anything remotely routine.
Content wise, this film was made during an era of artificiality, when the majority of what appeared in films was created on soundstages. Though the plot and visuals draw heavily from the Film Noir genre. There is just as many new things that this film brings to the table that are in contrast to the aforementioned Film Noir genre. Most notably shooting at actual locations that give the film a more intimate documentary vibe that is in contrast to Noir’s foreboding distinctive style that often employed low-key lighting and unbalanced compositions.
A common complaint about this film are the performances from its cast and though there is some merit to this argument. One has to also take into consideration that more stylized performances would draw attention away from the authenticity that is being captured onscreen. And if there was any performance that stood out more than any other then that would be Ted de Corsia (The Lady from Shanghai) in the role Garzah, the man wanted for the murder of the ex-model.
When compared to other police procedurals this film’s plot treads familiar waters. Fortunately it is not the performances or the plot that ultimately drive this film. Since the star and main attraction of this film are its beautifully photographed locations, where its true power and allure remain.
The Naked City comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. This release has been flagged for progressive playback and the film is presented in its intended 1.37:1 aspect ratio. Contrast and black levels look very good, details generally look crisp and there are no issues with DNR or compression. Grain look natural, there are some very mild instances of print debris and the image remains stable throughout.
This release comes with one audio option, a LPCM mono mix in English and removable English SDH subtitles have also been included. There are no issues with background noise, dialog comes through clearly and everything sounds balanced.
Extras for this release include a stills gallery, trailers for The Naked City, Brute Force and Rififi, a short documentary film about who were blacklisted from Hollywood during the McCarthy era titled ‘The Hollywood Ten’ (14 minutes 44 seconds – 1.37:1 aspect ratio 1080 Progressive), a featurette about the how the landscape and film industry has changed in New York city over the years titled ‘New York and The Naked City’ (39 minutes 41 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen), an archive interview with Jules Dassin titled ‘Jules Dassin at LACMA’ (52 minutes 1 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen) and an audio commentary with screenwriter Malvin Wald.
Topics discussed in the Q & A with Jules Dassin include, Riffi and his thoughts on the novel from which it was adapted from, composer Georges Auric, producers Mark Hellinger and Darryl F. Zanuck, The Naked City and shooting on location in New York city. Topics discussed by Malvin Wald inlcude, how he conceived this film project and he involvement in the subsequent screenplay used for the film, the look of The Naked City and how it inspired other similar themed films, working with director Jules Dassin and Dassin’s blacklisting from Hollywood, how the film was almost shelved by its distributor Universal when its producer Mark Hellinger died a week after its first sneak preview screening, the cast, the film’s score and so much more.
Rounding out the extras is a reversible covert art and forty page booklet that contains cast & crew information, contemporary reviews, three essays, the first essay titled ‘Just Close Enough’ written by Allister Philips, the second essay titled ‘William H. Daniels’ written by Barry Salt and the third essay titled ‘Eight Million Stories’ written by Sergio Angelini (this essay covers the T.V. series based on this film) and information about the restoration work done for this release. Also included with this release is a DVD that has the same content included on the Blu-Ray included as part of this combo release. Overall The Naked City gets a first rate release from Arrow Academy.