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Tricia's retro film review: The Naked City

The Naked City


The Naked City is the 1948 film noir. It takes place in New York City where Jean Dexter is killed. Detectives Muldoon and Halloran are assigned to the case. Unfortunately, problems spring up fast when one of the witnesses, Frank, lies. It’s only when he gets caught stealing that he confesses the truth. The police find another body; it turns out to be Peter Backalis, who was murdered after he felt guilt for the crime. The trail leads them to wrestler Willie Garzah and Dr. Stoneman, who turns out to be Jean’s boyfriend. When they find Willie, he flees from the police. Can they catch the killer in time?

While it is a film noir, it is not as pessimistic about humans as later films in this genre would be. In fact, it has an unusual warmth as it portrays the city of New York as a decent place that has both good and bad people. The only thing that’s typically film noir are the villains, who are ready to kill each other if it is beneficial to them. There’s an almost documentary feel to it as not only do we see how the police tackle the case, we also get to see how the people of New York react to it. Ultimately the film leads the viewer to feel that the case was important, even if only a few people remember Jean’s story. Honolulu film noir fans should watch this movie.

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