My 1,000th Post: “While the City Sleeps” (1956) starring Dana Andrews, Rhonda Fleming, George Sanders, Vincent Price, Ida Lupino, & John Barrymore, Jr.

…tempers hard-core noir with more mainstream motives. It’s a slick, entertaining, and at times even scary movie.

With an intriguing plot and an impressive ensemble approach with the casting, this film offered much and, although it could have been darker in tone, it still offered a lot of potential to be a slick urban mystery. 

Hitchcock of course treated the subject of a mother-fixated psychopath just a bit better a few years later…

I did like how Lang seemed to enjoy himself thumbing his nose at the production code.

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

The main plot concerns what happens at Kyne News Service after the founder/boss suddenly dies. Walter Kyne (Vincent Price), a playboy who doesn’t know much re: his father’s business, decides to have a contest among the heads of its three divisions for a new executive role. Mark Loving (George Sanders) runs the news wire, Jon Day Griffith (Thomas Mitchell) runs the newspaper New York Sentinel, and the paper’s art director is Harry Kritzer (James Craig). Walter’s wife, Dorothy (Rhonda Fleming), is having an affair w/ Harry, who is also the best friend of her husband. While these men one up each other, anchorman Edward Mobley (Dana Andrews), pursues the story of a murderer targeting young women living alone. Ed is trying to convince his girlfriend/Loving’s secretary, Nancy Liggett (Sally Forrest), to marry him. The gossip columnist, Mildred Donner (Ida Lupino), may be seeing Mark, but she also has eyes for Ed.

From 1936 to 1956, German director Fritz Lang made some psychologically astute movies, often working w/ pulp fiction (lightweight material). Most of these were thrillers, dealing w/ the psychosis of the killer. Plot never really interested Lang; he focused more on the details and characterizations. The serial killer here (played by John Barrymore, Jr.) is never the focus of attention. This movie was based on a real 1946 murder case, when William Heirens killed three women and left a message (in lipstick on a bathroom mirror) after the second murder. He urged the police to catch him before he killed again; the press dubbed him “The Lipstick Killer.”

As TCM’s Eddie Muller noted, usually noirs don’t have this many big names. The lighting (for the most part) is flat, like you’d see on a ’50s TV show, Muller explained. I noticed the “K” logo for Kyne Enterprise looks similar to one in Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane (also produced by RKO). The first half presents the POV of those who report the news, so if you’re interested in journalism and corporate intrigue, check it out. I watched it twice in the past two years; I didn’t appreciate it much the first time.

After 6+ mos. of quarantine life, I’m having a tough time staying positive. Also, have you noticed how much laundry and dishes there are to do!? I’d like to cook more, but my work has become quite busy (and stressful) this Summer/Fall. I feel tired pretty much all the time these days. This blog is helping me to stay sane (no joke). Thanks to all who are reading, subscribing, sharing, and liking my posts! I hope you all stay safe!

4 thoughts on “My 1,000th Post: “While the City Sleeps” (1956) starring Dana Andrews, Rhonda Fleming, George Sanders, Vincent Price, Ida Lupino, & John Barrymore, Jr.

  1. Here anyway we’re about to tilt — the hospitals are 92% full. I’m very anxious. I’ve even begun drinking anti-anxiety tea.

    Like

  2. Awww, I really appreciate ALL ur comments! I was doing OK until V recently- now things def DO take a lotta energy! Also, have been BIT worried re: my friends & fam who MAY be more susceptible to virus.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, and i should have said — I’m always interested to read your posts even if I don’t always think of something to say. You’re definitely my personal guide to American 20th c. film!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Happy thousandth post!

    I’m sorry you’re suffering from quarantine (me too). I feel like there’s this weird thing happening where suddenly stuff I used to do really easily and quickly now takes up a ton of emotional space.

    Liked by 1 person

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