The Naked City – Williamsburg Bridge 1948

The film “The Naked City” is a 1948 black-and-white film noir directed by Jules Dassin. The movie, shot in documentary style, was filmed on location on the streets of New York City. It is known for having one of the more famous quotes in movie history. “There are eight million stories in the Naked City; this has been one of them.” I actually watched this entire film just to hear this quote in context after hearing it out of context my entire life.

One scene that I took note of during this film was the final chase scene on the Williamsburg Bridge. The transformation of the Williamsburg Bridge from then to now is pretty fascinating. The West bound side has incoming and outgoing traffic, and the current eastbound side has a stairway that leads to the walkway. The most striking difference is how folks back then (Assuming that this portrayal was true to life.) utilized the Manhattan side walkway as a park. You can see kids rollerskating, jumping rope, playing marbles, etc. The only bridge in NY that bears any resemblance to that now is the Brooklyn Bridge. However the Williamsburg Bridge 1948 seems to have been a playground for locals as opposed to the tourists who cross the Brooklyn Bridge now. Also fascinating is how little Delancey street has changed. Haha.

Another interesting note about this film. The visual style was inspired by the New York photographer Weegee who published a book of photos of New York life entitled Naked City (1945). Weegee was known for his stark black and white street photography. Check out the embed below that has both the Williamsburg chase sequence and the famous quote. And if you get a chance see this film by all means do. It pops up on TCM every now and then or you can order it on Netflix.

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