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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Malvin Wald, The Naked City screenwriter, dies

click to enlarge naked-city2.jpg

(Image courtesy Amazon.com)

Malvin Wald, who scripted Jules Dassin's 1948 film noir classic The Naked City, passed away, as reported in this New York Times piece. He was 90. The movie is famous for its much quoted ending: “There are 8 million stories in the Naked City. This has been one of them.” The movie won two Oscars, for cinematography and editing, and Wald was nominated for his script.

Here's my review of the DVD release, which featured the following paragraph about the movie's influence:

As … Wald notes in the commentary to the Criterion Collection's DVD release, The Naked City is the spiritual godfather of so many countless TV crime dramas as well, starting with the TV series version of the movie, continuing on with "Dragnet" and pretty much any Quinn Martin Production all the way through "Miami Vice" and "NYPD Blue" to the "Law & Order" and "CSI" franchises. But where these aggressively examine and often romanticize the process with their crashing soundtracks, dig-me camera angles and saturated colors, Dassin's film seems comfortable plodding along with the cops on the beat and behind the desk, doggedly and often boringly pursuing their leads. You barely even get to enjoy the murder.

The police procedural would later reveal itself in later film noir movies such as Call Northside 777 and my personal favorite, the New Orleans-based Panic in the Streets, an Oscar winner itself.

Thanks for the story, Malvin.

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