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While the City Sleeps

The old-fashioned 'stop the presses' newspaper yarn has been updated with intelligence and considerable authenticity, and further brightened with crisp dialog from the pen of Casey Robinson. His screen adaptation of Charles Einstein's novel [The Bloody Spur weaves several story lines together.

The old-fashioned ‘stop the presses’ newspaper yarn has been updated with intelligence and considerable authenticity, and further brightened with crisp dialog from the pen of Casey Robinson. His screen adaptation of Charles Einstein’s novel [The Bloody Spur weaves several story lines together.

Among them are the murderous activities of a homicidal maniac, played by John Barrymore Jr; a scramble for power among the top brass of a newspaper empire; and a good-natured love story between the paper’s top reporter, played by Dana Andrews, and Sally Forrest, the secretary of one of the contestants.

When the empire’s chieftain, played by Robert Warwick, dies, his son, Vincent Price, decides to set up a new top exec post for grabs. Contenders are: Thomas Mitchell, editor of the keystone paper; George Sanders, head of the empire’s wire service; and James Craig, dapper photo bureau chief.

Price lets it be known that the one to crack the wave of murders being committed by Barrymore gets the job. Sanders and Mitchell commence heartily to cut each other’s throats, while Craig puts the pressure, literally and figuratively, on Fleming.

Plot intricacies are deftly interwoven, with director Fritz Lang doing a topflight job of balancing the ingredients without dragging the pace.

While the City Sleeps

  • Production: RKO. Director Fritz Lang; Producer Bert Friedlob; Screenplay Casey Robinson; Camera Ernest Laszlo; Editor Gene Fowler Jr; Music Herschel Burke Gilbert; Art Director Carroll Clark
  • Crew: (B&W) Widescreen. Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1956. Running time: 99 MIN.
  • With: Dana Andrews Ida Lupino Rhonda Fleming George Sanders Vincent Price Howard Duff
  • Music By: