Friday, October 3, 2014

Goodbye, Naked City

[Zohra Lampert says goodbye. From the final moments of the Naked City episode “Barefoot on a Bed of Coals,” May 29, 1963. Click any image for a larger view.]

It would be nice to know whether the makers of Naked City knew that this episode was to be the show’s last. End of the season or end of the series — either way, the long goodbye is fitting.

“Barefoot on a Bed of Coals” is a strange episode with a baffling start. The episode looks at the life of Stanley Walenty (Steven Hill), a police wannabe who patrols his pretend beat wearing a real uniform and carrying a real gun. His downstairs neighbor Clara Espuella (Zohra Lampert) knows none of that. All she knows is that she’s smitten with Stanley. In the episode’s long final shot, Clara says goodbye to him as he’s taken to the hospital with a wound from a real criminal’s gun.

The final scene plays out on East Fourth Street, between the Bowery and Second Avenue. It’s an appropriate location for an episode focused on make-believe: this block of East Fourth was and is a world of theater. Notice the Writers’ Stage and East End Theatre on the right. Today, the block is home to La MaMa (nos. 66 and 74A), Duo Multicultural Arts Center (no. 62), and the New York Theatre Workshop (no. 79).

There are now fifty-three Naked City posts in the Orange Crate Art archives. Naked City is one the great television series, and it’s all on DVD.

[You might recognize Zohra Lampert as Angelina from Splendor in the Grass (dir. Elia Kazan, 1961).]


June 3, 2015: The closing shot of the film Side Street (dir. Anthony Mann, 1949) might have inspired this episode’s ending. See what you think.

comments: 2

Kenny Morse said...

The end of NAKED CITY was dad was the "Production Coordinator" (which is now called "Unit Production Manager) of the show in addition to being the Location Manager. HE found all the places where Naked City shot.

So to answer your question....they all knew. Actually by the time the last episode was shot, many of the crew who had been there for every episode from the original 1/2 hour series, had already moved on to other offers. My dad left Naked City for the last few episodes to the other seminal show of its day, "THE DEFENDERS". Hope this helped.

You can read about him at:

Michael Leddy said...

Kenny, thanks for the background. I tried the New York Times archive — no mention there of Naked City being canceled. Nor could I find anything elsewhere about the timing of the cancellation.

I followed the link and see that your father left quite a legacy. To say I’m happy to hear from you is an understatement.