City That Never Sleeps (1953)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Police Drama  |   Release Date - Aug 7, 1953 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 90 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

City That Never Sleeps is an uneven crime drama, one that contains some enough good elements that it's frustrating the film as a whole is not better. The chief culprit is, as so often, the screenplay, which starts out promisingly. Gig Young's character seems to be one that is fairly complex, a cop who is dissatisfied with his lot in life and could fall prey to temptation. Unfortunately, the character is not developed sufficiently beyond that, which is also the case with the Wally Cassell "mechanical man" character; he, too, shows promise that goes unfulfilled, although the sheer strangeness of his job does fascinate. The dialogue is also problematic, coming across too often as either artificial or bland, and the plot eventually becomes overly busy without achieving an appropriate depth. John H. Auer's direction is also uneven, but when he hits, he really hits hard; the scene involving the tear on Cassell's face is magical, and the climactic chase sequence is spectacular. Auer is enormously helped by John L. Russell's electric cinematography, an orgy of high contrasts and deep focuses that is stunning. Young is only so-so in the leading role, and Chill Wills is frequently annoying, but Cassell and William Talman are stand-outs. All in all, City That Never Sleeps is a hit-or-miss affair, but worth catching for its high points.