Thursday, May 17, 2012

Telephone exchange names
on screen: Naked City (3)

Anthony Scarzi (Jay Novello) hangs up after making an important phone call from a GRamercy pay phone. From the Naked City episode “Requiem for a Sunday Afternoon,” first broadcast on November 6, 1961. After watching a dozen or so episodes on DVD, I’ve seen nothing to dissuade me from saying that Naked City is one of the best television dramas ever made.

More exchange names on screen
The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse : Baby Face : Blast of Silence : Born Yesterday : The Dark Corner : Deception : Dream House : The Little Giant : The Man Who Cheated Himself : Modern Marvels : Murder, My Sweet : Naked City (1) : Naked City (2) : Nightmare Alley : The Public Enemy : Side Street : Sweet Smell of Success : This Gun for Hire

comments: 4

Adair said...

I saw this episode last night. Yes, it is a wonderful series. Like Route 66 and The Fugitive, each episode illuminates a different aspect of American experience. I am always struck by how diverse that experience was in those years, and by how successfully these shows capture its complexity---much more successfully, I feel, than shows today, although ostensibly we live in age of greater diversity. There is more richness of language, characterization, and emotion in these old programs, a willingness to be---heaven forbid!---serious; each episode is like a powerful short story, and it is probably no coincidence that the American short story had reached its pinnacle by the early 1960's.

Michael Leddy said...

I second your thoughts about these shows. Naked City in particular is like an Italian neo-realist television series.

Adair said...

Absolutely--that's what I was thinking as well as I watched this episode: "My gosh, this is Italian neorealism!" And it wasn't just because of the specifically Italian story of the episode, but aspects of the series overall: its use of actual (and gritty) New York locations, its focus on the hardships of daily experience, and its inclusion of local people speaking their authentic idioms and accents and who do not seem to be professional actors (the very idea of "actors" is poked fun of in the lengthy banter that you quoted between Burke and his girlfriend). The crime-drama theme can disappear from focus for long stretches of an episode, and even minor characters can have a startling vividness---like the two older neighborhood women in this episode who observe the shoemaker take the pocket knife, or the two young men on the roof. Yes, this series is indeed marvelous.

Michael Leddy said...

I’m surprised to see that both Jane Van Duser and Helen Verbit have multiple credits at the IMDb. I would have bet that they were neighborhood people.

In my mind now there’s an imaginary line that goes from John Ford’s The Grapes of Wrath to De Sica to Naked City.