Saturday, June 27, 2020

Tonight's Movie: The Sleeping City (1950) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

Last month I reviewed THE PRICE OF FEAR (1956) from Kino Lorber's recently released The Dark Side of Cinema II collection.

I'll be returning to that set to review the other two films, THUNDER ON THE HILL (1951) and THE FEMALE ANIMAL (1958). First, however, I wanted to call attention to the news that Kino Lorber released The Dark Side of Cinema III this month.

The three titles in the latest set are THE LADY GAMBLES (1949) with Barbara Stanwyck; one of my personal favorites, ABANDONED (1949), with Dennis O'Keefe, Gale Storm, Jeff Chandler, and Raymond Burr; and the film I'm reviewing this evening, THE SLEEPING CITY (1950), starring Richard Conte and Coleen Gray.

I first saw THE SLEEPING CITY back in 2012. The copy I saw had been recorded from American Movie Classics back in its commercial-free days. What a pleasure to return to the film tonight thanks to Kino Lorber's terrific new Blu-ray release! Grungy Bellevue Hospital, where much of the film was shot, gleams as much as it's possible to do here.

I really enjoy this movie, in which Conte plays a Fred Rowan, a detective working under deep cover to solve the murder of a New York City hospital intern.

Rowan had a couple years of pre-med education as well as experience in the medical corps during World War II, which enabled him to assume the identity of Dr. Fred Gilbert, a recent graduate of USC Medical School who has relocated from Los Angeles to New York to serve an internship.

Rowan is told that if he gets into a medical situation he can't handle he'll have to break his cover, but he manages to cope thanks to following the lead of an experienced nurse.

While Rowan works to solve the first killing, another intern dies unexpectedly. Rowan's in increasing danger himself as he's pulled deeper into a dark situation at the hospital.

I like this movie tremendously. Conte is terrific, and the situations his character finds himself in are fascinating. I especially enjoyed a scene early on where he's quizzed about the background of his assumed identity. Not having been briefed on his father's supposed occupation, he invents on the fly that dear old dad is an electrician working for "motion picture companies."

The location shooting in and around New York's Bellevue Hospital is also a huge plus, including the tour that Rowan takes of the facility along with other new interns. Fantastic stuff. I also loved a scene where Conte and Gray eat at the Automat.

As I noted at the time of my previous viewing, the only real issue with this 86-minute film is that the women's roles, nurses played by Gray and Peggy Dow, seem strangely truncated. The development of their relationships with the detective left me feeling that each of them had scenes left on the cutting-room floor. I'm hoping that the commentary track by the always-interesting Imogen Sara Smith might shed some light on that when I listen to it in the next few days.

THE SLEEPING CITY was directed by George Sherman. It was filmed in black and white by William Miller. The original story and screenplay were by Jo Eisinger.

The supporting cast includes John Alexander, Alex Nicol, and Richard Taber.

In addition to the previously mentioned commentary, disc extras include the trailer and a trailer for another New York based film noir available from Kino Lorber, CRY OF THE CITY (1948). Conte starred in CRY OF THE CITY along with Victor Mature, and I recommend the film highly.

Film noir fans will want to note that The Dark Side of Cinema IV collection will be out on July 14th, featuring CALCUTTA (1946), AN ACT OF MURDER (1948), and SIX BRIDGES TO CROSS (1955). I'll be spending a great deal of quality time with the "dark side of cinema" this summer thanks to Kino Lorber!

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.


Blogger Caftan Woman said...

I love Conte and I love undercover stories. An extra treat for this fan was the location shooting and John Alexander as the Inspector. The Blu-Ray sounds like it will be a genuine treat for the eyes.

The set sounds like a must-have as I haven't seen Abandoned or Thunder on the Hill is ages. Oh, speaking of Thunder on the Hill, if you are looking for a good read check out Jacqueline T. Lynch's Murder at the Summer Theater where Thunder on the Hill plays a part in the setting.

5:07 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I agree, it was quite fun to see Alexander as the inspector. Really enjoyed his interactions with Conte.

You will love the set! Just to be clear, SLEEPING CITY and ABANDONED are in set III and THUNDER ON THE HILL is in set II. Both worth getting!! Really looking forward to revisiting both ABANDONED and THUNDER ON THE HILL in the near future.

Thanks for the tip on Jacqueline's MURDER AT THE SUMMER THEATER, what fun!

Best wishes,

9:57 AM  

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