This really is a fascinating film, on many levels. It is a fictional murder mystery, but filmed in an almost documentary style showing the workings of a police investigation in detail and the City of New York as it had never been seen on celluloid before.
The intended aim of the film is to make the city the star, and it works. Filmed in as many real locations as possible (the actual city morgue was a particularly good touch) with the minimum of staged sets there is a feeling of reality. The action moves from location to location, almost always with the camera focused on the environment, crowds and buildings rather than the protagonists. You get an intimate view of the investigation, but a feeling that it is just a small part in the workings of a great metropolis.
The mystery itself is well put together and interesting. The detail of the police investigation as they wind towards the truth is excellent. Not afraid to show it as it really is with lots of boring legwork and asking questions before any kind of clear picture emerges, this is an almost verite approach.
Filmed in 1948 this is a film that works well on several levels - the depiction of the city, the crime thriller, the character study and the detailed police procedural. It is a fascinating document of the times and well worth a watch by any fans of noir cinema and anyone who enjoys well made and interesting films that are a bit different.
This 2009 Arrow release is OK. The film has not been restored, but in general it is a good transfer with a reasonably clean and crisp picture. There are the occasional scratches and jumps, but these do not detract too much from the viewing pleasure. The sound is generally OK, except for the very start of the movie where the voice over gets a little lost in the back ground noise.
A decent release of this classic film.