William Daniels was more accustomed to photographing glamorous stars like Greta Garbo and Norma Shearer when he took to the streets of New York for this pioneering location-shot murder mystery. To capture homicide detective Barry Fitzgerald’s dogged pursuit of the man who killed a sometime model and full-time con artist, he hid his cameras in a newsstand and the back of a moving van. That allowed director Jules Dassin to capture the city and its denizens without passersby noticing there was a movie being shot. The result was some of the grittiest photography in Hollywood history, winning Daniels his only Oscar for Best Cinematography. The film also served as the final testament for producer Mark Hellinger, the onetime newspaperman who brought his knowledge of the crime beat to such classics as High Sierra (1941) and The Killers (1946). He died shortly after the end of shooting, leaving Universal executives unsure of how to sell this ultra-realistic film. After almost shelving it, they were surprised when it became a hit and a huge influence on later crime films.
Dir. Jules Dassin
In attendance: Tiffany Vazquez