What doesn't work is the narration, which is sort of ironic, as arguably the most memorable part of the movie is the last line : "There are eight million stories in the naked city; this has been one of them." It's a good line, but I find most of the narration intrusive and annoying. I read somewhere, though, that the narration was a late addition because, since they were filming on location in New York, it was difficult to hear dialogue over the street traffic.
What also works is Barry Fitzgerald as the amiable, levelheaded veteran Detective Lt. Muldoon. He's seen just about everything, and it doesn't much surprise him. He's also met just about every kind of person, and is a shrewd judge of character. He uses this experience to sift through the various lies and deceits practiced by the suspects to arrive at the truth.
There actually is one scene with Det. Halloran that I find affecting: the one in which he interviews Jean's parents. The mother's masking of her grief with bitterness and anger is very well done, and provides an effective contrast to the young rookie's family life. In a visit to his home, it is shown that his biggest problem is making sure his little son doesn't wander away from the house and get lost. Yet here, Halloran must deal with parents who have lost their child permanently, and sadly, had done so long before her death.
To sum up, the plot of 'The Naked City' is mediocre, but it has some good scenes, and is worth watching for the visuals- and for the always delightful Barry Fitzgerald, of course.
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* A TV show was adapted from the movie in the late 1950's.
* The idea for the movie- and its title- came from Arthur "WeeGee" Fellig, a photojournalist who traveled around with the NY police to the scenes of emergencies and crimes in the '30s and '40s, taking snapshots not only of the victims, but of the onlookers and their surroundings. In 1945 he released a book of his photos called 'Naked City'.