Naked City is a boldly fashioned yarn [by Malvin Wald] about eastside, westside; about Broadway, the elevated, Fifth Avenue; about kids playing hop-skip-and-jump; about a populace of 8 million – about a blond beaut’s mysterious murder in an upper-westside apartment house.
Hellinger’s off-screen voice carries the narrative. At the very opening he describes New York, with the aid of a mobile camera, and its teeming humanity. Kids at play, subway straphangers, street vendors on Orchard Street. Then that blonde with a questionable background who is mysteriously murdered. The kind of a story that Hellinger, one of the great tabloid crime reporters of the bathtub-gin era, used to write.
In this pic there are no props. A Manhattan police station scene was photographed in the police station; a lower eastside cops-and-robbers chase was actually filmed in the locale; the ghetto and its pushcarts were caught in all their realism.
Throughout, despite its omniscient, stark melodrama, there has been no sight lost of an element of humor. Barry Fitzgerald, as the film’s focal point, in playing the police lieutenant of the homicide squad, strides through the role with tongue in cheek, with Don Taylor as his young detective aide.
1948: Best B&W Cinematography, Editing.
Nomination: Best Motion Picture Story