Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Side Street in a Naked City

When I first saw Anthony Mann’s film Side Street (1949), I hadn’t yet seen the television series Naked City. Seeing Side Street again, I’m excited to realize that its last shot must be the inspiration for the last shot of the last Naked City episode, “Barefoot on a Bed of Coals” (1963). The view in each shot is from inside an ambulance, with a woman standing and watching as her wounded man is taken to a hospital. Here, from Side Street, is Ellen Norson (Cathy O’Donnell), watching as the ambulance drives off with her husband Joe (Farley Granger). Click on any image for a larger view:

And here is the much longer closing shot from “Barefoot on a Bed of Coals.” It’s very difficult to see the resemblance as a coincidence.

The resemblance may be a matter of Naked City ’s director of photography Andrew Laszlo paying tribute to Side Street ’s cinematographer Joseph Ruttenberg. Or the resemblance may be meant as a larger tribute to a film shot on location in Manhattan, a film whose style influenced the series.¹ Or perhaps Harry Bellaver (Naked City ’s Detective Frank Arcaro), who played a cabdriver in Side Street, remembered the closing shot and made a suggestion. Who knows? Not I.

[Harry Bellaver as cabdriver Larry Giff.]

Side Street and the first Granger-O’Donnell film, They Live by Night, are available as a two-fer DVD.

¹ Though Naked City takes its name from Jules Dassin’s film The Naked City (1948), the series plays more like Side Street: the emphasis is not on the cops but on guest-star protagonists. And speaking of cops, Naked City ’s Lieutenant Mike Parker (Horace McMahon) bears a greater resemblance to Side Street ’s terse Captain Walter Anderson (Paul Kelly) than to The Naked City ’s elfin Detective Lieutenant Dan Muldoon (Barry Fitzgerald).

Related reading
All OCA Naked City posts (Pinboard)
Side Street, locations
They Live by Night

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