While The City Sleeps (1956)

  • Jumps right into the movie with the subtitle: “New York City…Tonight”.

(Reminds me of the narration in THE NAKED CITY (1948).)

  • Enlivened opening credits (post-opening scenes) – the music is jumpy & dramatic and the words fly into view like they’re very enthusiastic & important. Interesting mood setter.
  • Directed by Fritz Lang.
  • Yes! Thomas Mitchell! Love him.
  • So in this opening scene, a drug store delivery guy comes back to a woman’s apartment after delivering a prescription to her & kills her. Then he writes “Ask Mother” on the wall in red lipstick.
  • Meanwhile, a news impresario named Amos Kyne (Robert Warwick) kicks the bucket, & all his top employees want his job. Kyne wished that famed TV reporter Ed Mobley (Dana Andrews) would be his successor, but Ed is apparently uninterested – so Kyne’s son Walter (Vincent Price) temporarily takes command. The weird-ass son basically decides that whoever catches the Lipstick Killer will be named as his father’s replacement. So now it’s a middle-aged-man news race!
  • Ed & Nancy (Sally Forrest) have officially become engaged. Huzzah!
  • In other news, one of the job competitors, Mark Loving (George Sanders), has instructed his girlfriend Mildred (Ida Lupino) to “go as far as she needs to” with Ed to find out what he knows about the case & get him on his team. What a goddamn scoundrel! Don’t do it, Mildred! Kick Mark Loving to the curb – he’s an asswipe who’s not on your level!
  • This drug store-ist is creepy as fuck. JB2 (John Barrymore Jr.) is doing an excellent job.
  • Hold up. One of the three main competitors for job (Harry Kritzer, played by James Craig) lives across the hall from Nancy, Ed’s fiancée? So when Sonny Boy Kyne’s wife (Rhonda Fleming) comes to have her (very frequent) affair with Competitor #3, she’s running the risk of Ed, Nancy, or the both of them spotting her? That’s a bullshit plot contrivance. High stakes affairs are way smarter than that.

(To be clear, this apartment positioning wasn’t written into the story for the purposes of the affair being exposed – it was so the Psychopathic Drug Storist could see Nancy’s apartment nametag after delivering booze to the philandering couple’s room. Real dumb.)

  • The writers may have missed a really interesting plot string in allowing the Drug Storist to know relatively immediately that the girl at the bar with Mobley was someone other than Nancy. Without the conversation with the bartender, that part of the story could have played out any number of different ways. Hm. Oh well.
  • So…Ed (presumably) sleeps with Mildred, tells Nancy in the middle of the night, then says the following to Nancy at the office the next day:

“I’m getting pretty tired of your unreasonable attitude.”

What the fuck?! You’re not allowed to say that! You’re the one who slept with Mildred – Nancy can give you any sort of attitude she damn well pleases. Jesus!

  • Oh. Revision. Turns out Ed didn’t sleep with her. Just drunkenly made out with her in a taxi. Not quite as bad as the previous assumption, but still – Nancy has the right to be as pissed as she wants. He deserves it.
  • “But I didn’t DO anything!” Ed whine-yells like a baby. Oh yes you did! Just because you could have done more doesn’t mean you didn’t do anything. Groan.
  • For a second there, I thought we were gonna see the inspiration for the SPEED (1994) ending – what with the solo chase of the criminal through the subway tunnel, concluding with a wrestling match right next to the fast-moving trains. But the scene ended differently (with the Drug Storist being tackled after popping out of a manhole).
  • (I now, admittedly, see the merits, story-wise, of positioning Harry’s apartment across the hall from Nancy’s. Nancy didn’t know who Mrs. Kyne was…but Mildred sure did!)
  • Pretty good movie – great cast, very engaging from beginning to end, & a plot that didn’t get too twisty & difficult to follow. Solid. I’d watch it again.

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