As part of TCM’s twentieth anniversary celebrations Ultimate Fan Contest winner Tiffany Vazquez discussed one of her favorite films, director Jules Dassin’s THE NAKED CITY (1948), with Film Noir Foundation President Eddie Muller. Tiffany asked for a show of hands from the audience and many of the audience members in attendance were there to see THE NAKED CITY for the first time, myself included. Several of her Ultimate Fan runner ups were in attendance, cheering her on. Vazquez got a laugh from the crowd after Muller asked how many times she’d seen the film, and she responded ‘This year?’
A native of New York City, Tiffany not only responded to the film’s story, but to it’s gritty, honest portrayal of the city as an integral character within that story. Currently living in the Bronx, and having grown up in Queens, Vazquez particularly appreciates the fact that THE NAKED CITY shows all five of the city’s boroughs, which few New York set films manage to do. She spoke about recognizing certain streets, landmarks and the 7 train that Detective Jimmy Halloran (Don Taylor) takes home in the film. Recognizing these landmarks gave Vazquez a deeper personal connection to the film that gave her a sense of ownership that became more personal with each viewing. It should come as a surprise to now one that writer Malvin Wald was a native New Yorker himself.
With exterior shots filmed on location in the city – no small feat considering camera size and where the overall technology of filmmaking was in the late 194os – THE NAKED CITY has a documentary feel that goes beyond the look of the film and reverberates throughout the entire story. The film not only takes it’s title from a 1945 book of photography by Weegee, but the photographer was also hired as a visual consultant on the film. As the first true police procedural film, writer Malvin Wald spent a lot of time researching police work and going on ride alongs with officers. For his effort Wald received a nomination for Best Writing of a Motion Picture Story at the 1949 Academy Awards.
To borrow a line from producer Mark Hellinger’s narration, there are eight million stories in the naked city, and we are so pleased Tiffany Vasquez shared hers with all of us.