(On Cable TV, October 2019) This probably won’t make any sense, but The Naked City is not noir and yet not quite not-noir. A police procedural presented from the get-go as almost a documentary, this is a film that goes filming on the street of New York City, complete with an intrusive narrator to telescope events into expositionary montages. The narration is the first thing that grabs viewers in the film—the second is the authentic depiction of New York at the end of the 1940s. A murder has been committed, and the film details the arduous process through which the detectives investigate the crime. It’s not noir because it’s usually filmed during the day, and it features law-enforcement characters as the heroes. And yet it is not quite not-noir in that it abandons the romanticism of the city to take us to the venal humans that populate it, acting out of lust or greed in order to break the law and hurt others. Director Jules Dassin’s execution more than complements a decent plot in order to give us seven days in the life of New York City, following a murder that will soon be swept away like the previous day’s newspapers. Some good moments by likable actors do help in making the film interesting throughout—including a heartbreaking line about mourning a murdered daughter and terrific last lines that inspired many. (“There are eight million stories in the naked city. That was one of them.”) The Naked City has been imitated and surpassed by scores of other movies, but it has kept it patina of period detail admirably well. At this point, it’s as good a time-travel gets.