Celebrating the 70th anniversary of Jules Dassin’s The Naked City, Master Licensing and Brook Productions, in proud partnership with Park Circus, will present the meticulously restored genre-defining police procedural at the 75th Venice International Film Festival.
“There are eight million stories in the Naked City” goes the immortal line from the noir classic which will be seen in Venice as it was originally intended for the first time since its 1948 theatrical debut.
Set for 4 September 2018, the World Premiere of the restored version will be held at 5.15pm at the Sala Casinò cinema, as part of the Venice Classics section of the Festival. The Naked City is lauded for its realism, and was the first studio film shot entirely on location in New York City, utilising concealed cameras to capture the authentic action and atmosphere of the city.
The film, which follows two New York detectives as they investigate the death of a former model, would become the template for police genre films and television for decades to come – most notably Law and Order.
The film is also significant for being one of Jules Dassin’s last American films before he was blacklisted by Hollywood and moved to Europe, where he became famous for his film Rififi and his political activities with his actress/politician wife Melina Mercouri.
The Naked City has had a long and circuitous route to restoration as the film’s distributor, Universal, handed over the film’s rights to producer Mark Hellinger’s estate in 1956, who then oversaw a successful television series of the same name which aired from 1958-1963. In 1988, independent producer Andrew Garroni acquired the rights from the Hellinger estate and paired with Showtime to produce a spin-off series of TV movies in 1998.
A long-time admirer of Jules Dassin’s work, Garroni remarked on the film’s enduring appeal: “As the son of an Italian cinematographer, I’ve always admired the Italian neorealism influence Dassin brought to this gritty slice-of-New York-life story. There is an elegance The Naked City has always possessed compared to the other crime movies of the time.”
While the film has been a mainstay with film historians, it has found new life with audiences since Criterion released a special edition DVD in 2007. The renewed interest led Garroni to work with Torsten Kaiser of TLEFilms FRPS Film Restoration and Preservation Services in Germany to begin the arduous task of restoring the movie. Originally filmed on 35mm nitrate, the original camera negative was believed to be lost or destroyed. The restoration has taken two years and been culled together from 6 picture elements and 7 sound elements obtained from around the world, including the British Film Institute and Columbia Industries (Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group).
Kaiser stated, “This print represents the correct, very finely detailed, luminescent quality only the original picture elements can provide. This restoration for preservation focused on precision scanning and exact colour retiming to match the references on the stability and steadiness of the picture. The sound achieves a resonance and bandwidth of the original like never before heard in greatest detail.”
Beyond the Festival, Master Licensing plans to release the newly restored version in 2019 and Garroni along with his daughter Lauren Garroni, a writer, are working on a new adaptation for television.