Friday, November 07, 2008

Tonight's Movie: While the City Sleeps (1956)

WHILE THE CITY SLEEPS, directed by Fritz Lang, is an interesting blending of genres. Top executives at a multimedia corporation must solve a murder mystery if they want the chance to run the company. Think of it as EXECUTIVE SUITE meets "newspaper noir."

The film has a powerhouse cast: Dana Andrews, Ida Lupino, George Sanders, Vincent Price, Rhonda Fleming, Thomas Mitchell, James Craig, Howard Duff, Sally Forrest, and John Drew Barrymore, who is billed here as John Barrymore Jr.

The entire acting company is very entertaining, but I particularly enjoyed Ida Lupino, who steals all of her scenes as a gossip columnist, and one of my all-time favorite actors, Dana Andrews, as a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist and TV commentator. What a great voice Andrews had. Thomas Mitchell is also fun as the cagey old-school newspaper editor in competition with George Sanders' wire service executive.

The office politics and ethical issues are more interesting than the murder mystery, and fortunately those scenes dominate the film. The movie contains many elements which have been done before, including a climactic subway system chase, but it's executed with style and provides solid entertainment.

The jazzy score is by Herschel Burke Gilbert. The film runs 100 minutes and was shot in black and white.

WHILE THE CITY SLEEPS is available on VHS. It can also be seen on Turner Classic Movies.

November 2010 Update: For more on this film please visit Riding the High Country.

Update: This film is now available in a remastered DVD from the Warner Archive.

March 2018 Update: The Warner Archive has now released this film on Blu-ray. My review is here.


Blogger Colin said...

I just reviewed this one myself the other day - a very entertaining movie, and one I've always been fond of.
The recent UK DVD presents it nicely, albeit in open-matte, and it deserves to be more widely known.

5:01 PM  

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