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Friday, October 22, 2010

While The City Sleeps (1956)

SCARLET STREET aside, WHILE THE CITY SLEEPS may well be Fritz Lang's best American film. Inheriting a media empire after his father dies, his son (Vincent Price) announces his intention to turn over the directorial reins to whoever breaks the story of the notorious "Lipstick Killer", a homicidal, woman hating maniac (John Drew Barrymore Jr., Drew's daddy) still at large. The film's characters, save one, are a nest of vipers. Each looking out for his or her own interests, ethics be damned. George Sanders sends his mistress (Ida Lupino) to pump information from a reporter (Dana Andrews) even if it means bedding him, James Craig engaged in an affair with Price's duplicitous wife (Rhonda Fleming) uses her to advance his chances while Dana Andrews uses his unwilling fiancee (Sally Forrest) as a decoy for the killer. Only Forrest and possibly Thomas Mitchell as the chief editor seem to have any recognizable ethics. Lang keeps the potential for a bombastic thriller by shooting it in a semi-documentary style using Oscar winner Ernest Laszlo's noir-ish B&W cinematography to give it a more subdued look. With Howard Duff, Mae Marsh and Vladimir Sokoloff.

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