Friday, 3 April 2015

The White City

I've just come to the end of Season 1 (1958-59) of The Naked City, and have thoroughly enjoyed the 39-episode run of this police procedural drama. The show's raison d'être was to present New York City warts and all, and much of the series was filmed fast and loose on the streets and neighborhoods around South Bronx and Manhattan. In addition to the principal actors, The Naked City featured an excellent roster of no-nonsense staff directors (including a prolific Stuart Rosenberg and a revolving door of talented players making multiple appearances - part of my enjoyment of the show was seeing an actor playing a villain in one episode reappear as a victim in another. This first season features some well known faces too - Peter Falk, Vic Morrow, Martin Balsam, Roberts Blossom and an incandescent Diane Ladd (looking like her 23 year old Laura Dern). The one reservation I have for the show (and this perhaps this would be indicative of the era), is the absence of black actors. There might have been 8 million stories in the Naked City but none of them were black it seems. I think I counted two appearances by black actors throughout the entire season and both played indentured servants. More galling still, episodes often focused attention on the situation of other minorities living in NYC such as Hispanics or European émigrés... I'm now looking forward to delving into the 2nd season of Naked City, revamped to lose the definite article of the original title, but adding an additional half-hour to each episode.

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