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: While The City Sleeps (1956)  ( 8239 )
cigar joe
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« : December 04, 2011, 06:47:23 AM »

Director: Fritz Lang Writers: Casey Robinson, Charles Einstein (novel), Stars: Dana Andrews, Rhonda Fleming, George Sanders, Vincent Price, Ida Lupino, Howard Duff,     Thomas Mitchell, Sally Forrest, John Drew Barrymore Jr., and James Craig.  This is sort of a "noir light" film, and its the second ensemble cast Noir I've seen the first being "The Grand Central Murder".



Story paraphrased from IMDb: The Kyne News Empire founder dies, his son (Price) takes over and decides to create a new position that will do all the work his father did so he doesn't have to. So when a "Lipstick Killer" (Barrymore) begins to stalk the city murdering/raping young single women the various factions of the Kyne News Empire vie for favor the Wire Service (Sanders) the Sentinel Paper (Mitchell) and the Photo News (Craig) using the unfolding story.

Andrews, Forrest, Mitchell, Lupino



Dana Andrews plays a Pulitzer Prize winning TV Journalist who leans toward Mitchell and "The Sentinel" in the contest but his main ambition is to be left alone to pursue his drinking and his girl (Sally Forrest) who is Saunders secretary.  The Femme Fatales are Vincent Price's trophy wife (Rhonda Fleming) who pulls strings on behalf of her lover Craig, while mink-wrapped,  lush, sob sister, Ida Lupino "Champagne cocktail. Brandy float" initiates like maneuvers for her squeeze, Sanders by trying to seduce Andrews. Andrews on his nightly news taunts the killer and even come up with a scheme to use his girlfriend as bait.

Lupino & Duff



On the positive side its entertaining, Fleming, Lupino, and Forest all provide eye candy and the performances are great. On the negative it is all mostly uninteresting set and studio sound stage bound, with its only foray into realism being a pursuit by Andrews after the rapist into the NYC "subways" which look an awful lot like an LA trolley tunnel.

Price & silhouette of exercising Fleming



Barrymore's spy view of Fleming adjusting her stockings triggering the final denouement.



This would have benefited immensely with much more real on  location work and a darker pallet, and as one reviewer put it, Lang's following of so many plot strands results in somewhat of a fragmentation of focus. Watched on TCM 7/10

« : December 04, 2011, 06:48:34 AM cigar joe »

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« #1 : December 04, 2011, 08:01:17 AM »

Not really a noir. It's a straight melodrama.

« : December 04, 2011, 08:03:32 AM dave jenkins »


Ya measly skunk! A-campin’ on my trail and lettin’ me do the work an’ then shootin’ me in the back. IN THE BACK!
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« #2 : December 04, 2011, 01:13:36 PM »

Not really a noir. It's a straight melodrama.

I'm just going by Selby's list (and it must be in the American Encyclopedia of Film Noir since I had already listed it in the index) Like I said I though it was pretty "light".


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« #3 : October 10, 2013, 02:49:31 AM »

I just saw While the City Sleeps on TCM. 8/10  O0

- Very solid cast all around. And I just LOVE Rhonda Fleming  :-*

- The sex talk in this movie is as unsubtle as you'll see in a movie of 1956.

- IMO they shouldn't have had that scene with the murderer at home with his mother. They should have just scratched that whole mama's boy element of the story. It's not mentioned at all beyond that one scene, and the problem is that that scene is, I believe, the only scene in which the murder speaks (besides for a few brief "it's the drug store" lines when the customers answer the door.) I think it makes him more menacing if he doesn't talk, and that one scene is not necessary especially if you're not gonna pursue that angle.

--------

RE: the aspect ratios: TCM showed the movie in 1.33:1. IMDB says the film's aspect ratio is 2:1.

 Beaver http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film3/dvd_reviews52/while_the_city_sleeps.htm says that the Exposure Region 2 dvd is 1.33:1, while the WB region-free dvd is 2:1.
Looking at Beaver's screencaps, it's clear that (as can be expected), the 2:1 format chops a lot of information from the top and bottom, but also has more information on both sides, as compared to the 1.33:1 version.
To me, the real question is what aspect ratio did Fritz Lang intend?
This is 1956, so a solid 2-3 years into the widescreen era.
IMDB says the movie used SuperScope and the negative is 35mm. I'm not totally sure what SuperScope is; is it really an anamorphic process? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superscope
if he shot it in an anamorphic process, wouldn't almost certainly mean he intended the movie to be shown in widescreen? I mean, isn't the Fritz Lang that directed While the City Sleeps the same Fritz Lang who said CinemaScope is only useful for snakes and funerals? Did that Fritz Lang really intend this movie to be shown in widescreen?

Anyway, as I mentioned, the only 1.33:1 dvd of this movie currently available is Region 2, so here in America, I'll either have to get the widescreen dvd or wait for the next time it plays TCM...... (Hey WB: how 'bout releasing a blu ray, maybe with both aspect ratios? And for the bonus features, how about a nice commentary or interview with Sally Forest and Rhonda Fleming, who are still with us at 85 and 90 years old, respectively?  :)

« : October 10, 2013, 04:56:33 PM drinkanddestroy »

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« #4 : October 10, 2013, 05:25:17 AM »

Super Scope was a very special method to generate a widescreen picture. And rarely used in the 2:1 variant. And it was indeed not anamorph. So a fullscreen copy is possible. But the widescreen version shouldn't show more on the sides.


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« #5 : October 10, 2013, 06:36:55 AM »

IMO they shouldn't have had that scene with the murderer at home with his mother. They should have just scratched that whole mama's boy element of the story. It's not mentioned at all beyond that one scene, and the problem is that that scene is, I believe, the only scene in which the murder speaks (besides for a few brief "it's the drug store" lines when the customers answer the door.) I think it makes him more menacing if he doesn't talk, and that one scene is not necessary especially if you're not gonna pursue that angle.
Good point.




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« #6 : October 10, 2013, 04:59:29 PM »

Super Scope was a very special method to generate a widescreen picture. And rarely used in the 2:1 variant. And it was indeed not anamorph. So a fullscreen copy is possible. But the widescreen version shouldn't show more on the sides.

yeah, I assumed that normally, if a movie is shot in 1.33:1 but shown in widescreen (in this case 2:1), the widescreen version should just chop the top and bottom. But in this case, if you look at Beaver's screencaps, it's clear that the widescreen does chop the top and bottom but also shows more on the sides


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« #7 : July 20, 2019, 11:35:35 PM »

Eddie Muller's intro https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eh-TIg3AH7c

Eddie Muller's outro https://youtu.be/jbdNnBNA7SQ


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