Mighty Chroma Logo
Mighty Chroma Logo

The Naked City

Blu Ray

  • Score
    78
    from 2 reviewers
    Review Date:
  • The Naked City's on-location shooting and realism shine; a timeless, essential film.

    The Naked City Blu-ray Front Cover

    Disc Release Date:

  • Video
    75
  • Arrow Video's Blu-ray of 'The Naked City' features a detailed 1080p transfer from The Criterion Collection master, enhancing its historic NYC visuals with crisp clarity and preserving its cinematic authenticity; a Region-B release.

  • Audio
    78
  • Blu-ray features English LPCM 1.0 track, remastered from original negatives, offering clear, balanced audio with no distortions, supported by English SDH subtitles.

  • Extra
    68
  • Criterion's package enriches 'The Naked City' experience, blending insightful commentary, historical context, and NYC's cinematic essence, with exclusive interviews and art.

  • Movie
    78
  • Arrow Video releases 'The Naked City' (1948) on Blu-ray, packed with extras and notable for its Oscar-winning cinematography, authentic NYC setting, and pioneering film elements.

    Video: 75

    The Blu-ray release of "The Naked City" by Arrow Video, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio with a 1080p transfer, heralds a comprehensive 4K restoration that breathes new life into Jules Dassin's classic. This edition, boasting improvements meticulously produced by The Criterion Collection and shared via MGM from Hollywood Classics, leverages the best archival materials available. Despite the challenges of deriving from a pre-existing master, the technical team, including executive producer Francesco Simeoni and technical producer James White, have delivered an image quality that offers notable clarity and depth. While slight fluctuations in grain exposure and minor instances of light scratches are observed, none detract significantly from the viewing experience. The presentation maintains a pleasing organic integrity alongside commendable image stability, marking a substantial enhancement over previous DVD iterations.

    The restoration effort has been nothing short of painstaking. Spanning two years to complete, the absence of the film's original nitrate negative led to the utilization of 13 diverse elements for restoration, including a nitrate fine grain and a safety duplicate negative discovered at the British Film Institute. This meticulous process has yielded an AVC MPEG-4 transfer that exceeds expectations, honoring the Oscar-winning cinematography by William Daniels with vibrant clarity, contrast, and maintained natural grain structure that underscores the film-like aesthetic. The restoration not only enhances the glamorous yet gritty depiction of New York but also revitalizes background details and close-up textures previously lost to time and decay.

    This Blu-ray release manages to encapsulate the essence of New York City through superior shadow delineation, rich blacks, and bright whites, ensuring each frame from the bustling streets to the serene aerials conveys profound vibrancy and depth. Despite a few remaining blemishes, "The Naked City" emerges from its extensive restoration as a stunningly preserved piece that allows audiences to appreciate the intricate details and realism initially envisioned. Such fidelity to the original vision underscores this release as a definitive viewing experience for both aficionados and newcomers to Dassin's groundbreaking oeuvre.

    Audio: 78

    The audio presentation of "The Naked City" Blu-ray, offered in an English LPCM 1.0 track, showcases a meticulously remastered audio experience that venerates its roots while embracing the clarity contemporary technology can offer. Arrow Video has commendably preserved the film's original aural essence, sourcing the remaster primarily from the 35 mm nitrate fine-grain variable-density soundtrack alongside the 35 mm original sound negative. This marriage of sources results in a track that not only plunges the listener into the vivid soundscape of post-war New York City—with its buzzing streets, distant sirens, and chattering crowds—but also maintains a remarkable balance, ensuring dialogue remains clear and prioritized amongst the cacophony.

    Attention to detail in the preservation process reaps dividends in terms of audio quality; background noise is virtually nonexistent, with no detectable hiss or static to mar the listening experience. The LPCM mono track exhibits a pleasing balance and depth, offering a commendable dynamic range given the era of its original production. While the film's score, a collaborative effort between Frank Skinner and Miklós Rózsa, assumes a supplementary role, it navigates the limitations of its mono presentation with grace, enhancing key moments without overwhelming them. Noteworthy is the fact that even in the high stakes of the finale, where audio fidelity is paramount, there are no instances of dropouts or digital mimicking that detract from the tension on screen.

    Despite being constrained by its single-channel format, the audio track excels in delivering a clear, undistorted experience that respects the film's original atmosphere. With Arrow Video including optional English SDH subtitles, they ensure this pivotal piece of cinema history remains accessible. The endeavor to preserve and present "The Naked City" with such audio integrity undoubtedly contributes to an enriching viewing experience that almost rivals the visual restoration in importance, testifying to the meticulous care taken in reviving this classic for modern audiences.

    Extra: 68

    The Blu-ray extras for "The Naked City" offer a comprehensive and insightful look into the making, legacy, and cultural impact of this film noir classic. The standout is the detailed audio commentary by writer Malvin Wald, offering a deep dive into the film's production and his own contributions. Equally engaging are the filmed pieces with film critic Amy Taubin and historian James Sanders, who discuss the film’s place in New York's cinematic history and its pioneering realist style. Viewers will also appreciate the historical context provided by "The Hollywood Ten" documentary, shedding light on the era's political climate. Various interviews, including with Jules Dassin, enrich the package, alongside a visually engaging stills gallery. Criterion's commitment to quality is evident in these carefully curated extras, which not only celebrate but also critically analyze "The Naked City" within its historical and sociopolitical context.

    Extras included in this disc:

    • Audio Commentary: Insightful audio commentary by Malvin Wald.
    • Trailers: Original trailers for "The Naked City," "Brute Force," and "Rififi."
    • Stills Gallery: A rich collection of production and archival stills.
    • New York and The Naked City: Amy Taubin discusses the film’s production and its portrayal of New York City.
    • The Hollywood Ten: Documentary focusing on filmmakers blacklisted during the McCarthy era.
    • Jules Dassin at LACMA: Footage from Jules Dassin's 2004 appearance at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
    • Cover: Reversible sleeve with original poster and new artwork by Vladimir Zimakov.
    • Booklet: Collector's booklet with new essays on the film, illustrated with production stills.

    Movie: 78

    Jules Dassin’s groundbreaking film, "The Naked City" (1948), has been meticulously transferred to Blu-ray by Arrow Video, showcasing its Oscar-winning cinematography and editing in stunning clarity. This release includes a host of supplemental features such as an audio commentary by writer Malvin Wald, new critical insights by Amy Taubin, and a collector’s booklet with essays, enhancing one's appreciation of the film’s technical and artistic achievements. The narrative, driven by the murder investigation led by detectives Dan Muldoon and Jimmy Halloran, unfolds with a realism amplified by the film's on-location shooting across New York City. This choice of setting, away from the controlled environment of a studio, invites audiences into a narrative that feels both authentic and immediate.

    "The Naked City" distinguishes itself in the noir genre through its semi-documentary style, achieved through extensive location shooting and naturalistic performances. The innovative cinematography by William Daniels captures the bustling post-war metropolis with an authenticity that studio backlots could never replicate. This approach not only serves the narrative but becomes a character in its own right, presenting New York City in all its raw, unfiltered glory. The film’s narrative is propelled by Mark Hellinger’s effective narration, ensuring viewers remain engaged and fully comprehend the intricacies of the investigative process.

    Moreover, the ensemble cast delivers performances that resonate with the film’s gritty and realistic portrayal of city life, highlighting the diverse fabric of New York society. Barry Fitzgerald’s portrayal of Lt. Dan Muldoon exemplifies this, balancing professionalism with humanity in a manner that anchors the film’s emotional core. "The Naked City" not only revolutionized location shooting in American cinema but also set precedents for the police procedural and action genres, inspiring filmmakers for generations with its innovative chase scenes and unvarnished urban depiction. Through this Blu-ray presentation, viewers can fully appreciate the significance and enduring legacy of Dassin's masterwork within the context of film history.

    Total: 78

    Jules Dassin's "The Naked City" emerges as a pioneering cinematic masterpiece, celebrated not only for its intriguing murder case but more so for its groundbreaking on-location shooting and authentic representation of a bygone New York City. The film's unparalleled authenticity and semi-documentary style transport viewers directly into the heart of a 1940s murder investigation while simultaneously offering a vibrant cross-section of city life. Its remarkable execution, combined with William Daniels' Oscar-winning cinematography, is stunningly showcased through a meticulous 4K restoration, breathing new life into this historic piece of filmmaking. The restoration ensures that "The Naked City" retains its immediacy and visual splendor, making it an essential addition to modern collections.

    Available on a Region-B locked Blu-ray from British distributors Arrow Video, and boasting an excellent audio track alongside a commendable selection of supplemental material, this release underscores the film's historical and cinematic importance. Its critical acclaim and enduring appeal highlight the need for wider accessibility, prompting anticipation for an upgraded release by Criterion. The preservation and presentation of such a pivotal film are crucial for both cinephiles and historians, emphasizing the technological feats achieved in its day that continue to impress audiences more than seventy years later.

    In conclusion, "The Naked City" stands out not only as a landmark achievement in film history but also as a must-own Blu-ray release for its technically superior restoration and rich supplementary content. This Arrow Video release, coupled with hopes for future Criterion attention, affirm the film's place in cinema's legacy and its significance to a contemporary audience. Highly recommended, this edition is an indispensable asset that honors the film’s contribution to realist filmmaking and offers viewers a timeless glimpse into the urban tapestry of old New York.