Four stories down, 7,999,996 to go
Steven Hellerstedt | 08/06/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm kind of hesitant to give five-stars to four episodes of one old television series, but NAKED CITY: PRIME OF LIFE presents a strong sampling of a remarkable series. If it matters the episodes on this dvd aren't presented in chronological order.
The first is `Prime of Life' (originally aired Feb. 13, 1963) and features Paul Burke as Det. Adam Flint, a New York City policeman out of the 65th Precinct, who has been summoned to witness his first execution by electrocution. This episode is filled with a lot of interior monologue provided by Det. Flint, who isn't sure he wants to witness an execution, and is peppered with flashback scenes of the violent crimes committed by the man sentenced to die. `Naked City' was, famously, shot on the streets of New York, and that quasi-documentary quality gives this one a lot of body, as well as guiding the cast and crew to keep it as natural as possible. Much of `Prime of Life' takes place in an execution chamber, probably a set, but it has a real feel to it. Det. Flint, we learn early on, is a sensitive individual who doesn't necessarily relish the idea of watching a vicious criminal put to death. A nice, in-depth exploration of the death penalty seen from a cop's point of view. This episode also includes a very young Gene Hackman, in a small role, as a court reporter/reluctant witness.
Robert Duvall plays Francis L. Childe in `The One Marked Hot Gives Cold,' (March 21, 1962.) Duvall plays a troubled young man who's chased by the police after stealing records and files from the orphanage he was raised in. Duvall, as you'd expect, gives an intelligent and sensitive portrayal of a violent man who befriends a young girl (Laurie Heineman) while searching for the father who'd abandoned him (Edward Andrews.)
One of the oddest entries is `Hold for Gloria Christmas' (Sept. 19. 1962.) Burgess Meredith plays the mad/brilliant Greenwich Village poet Duncan Kleist who, over time, has sold the original drafts of his poems to bartender Stanley Dorkner (Herschel Bernardi) to pay off his prodigious bar tab. Now the destitute Poet wants them back, and the Bartender doesn't want to give them to him without getting $500 in cash in return. Young star spotters will want to keep their eyes open for Alan Alda in a small role, and a blink-and-you'll-miss-her appearance by Jessica Walter.
Diahann Carroll plays a teacher of pre-teen, visually impaired children in `A Horse Has a Big Head - Let Him Worry!' (Nov. 21, 1962.) The boys from 65th Precinct are called on the case when one of Carroll's `legally blind' children slips off an inner-city bus and gets lost in New York City.
As narrator Lawrence Dobkin tells us at the end of each episode, there are 8 million stories in the naked city. These shows tell those stories by taking the viewer to the real streets of a real city, and besides the stories it's a blast seeing what the place and people looked like forty years ago. It also tells the stories by getting under the characters' skins and into their heads, dragging Freud along with them in the process. Writing, acting, photography, are all top-notch. If you're a fan of police procedurals with heavy emphasis on the human element, this is a can't miss.
Don't miss this DVD if you love New York
Claude M. Gruener | Austin, TX United States | 12/10/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a must-buy for anyone who loves New York, and particularly the vastly different city of the late 50's and early 60's. If you like NYPD Blue, you'll go crazy over this gritty but heartwarming TV series. For fans of Diahann Carroll who stars in one of the episodes, it is a memorable experience as she protrays a teacher of blind children, one of whom is lost during a field trip. He must rely on his instincts and fortitude to make it back to his home in Brooklyn from mid-town Manhattan.Another of the four memorable episodes in this single DVD stars a young Robert Duvall who finds that his naive kindness toward a young girl lands him in trouble with the police.
When I was growing up, I watched Naked City on a snowy black and white TV. The clarity of this DVD is outstanding. The poignancy of the stories, the beauty of New York, and the excitement of city life caught by the cameras resulted in my moving to the city as fast as I could get there."
Hold for Spider-Man
G. Addison Leedom | Toledo, Ohio | 04/24/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
""It's a treat to see so many gifted actors at the beginnings of their careers, especially with such literate material. Let me especially single out "Hold For Gloria Christmas," the story of a dying poet struggling to send a precious gift to the future..."
Naked City was filmed on the streets of New York and this episode proves it in a strange way. In two scenes, the action takes place around a newsstand, in both cases, those mostly in the first one, you can clearly see some of the magazines for sale. The one between the two actors in the first one is a comic book, Amazing Fantasy #15, the very first appearance of the Amazing Spider-Man, a character now famous for two rather superb films of his own. If you freeze frame you can pick out others including the Journey Into Mystery Comics #83, the first appearance of Marvel Comics The Mighty Thor. The later is harder to pick out, but the Spider-Man appearence couldn't have been given more prominence even if someone had paid for the product placement.
It's not just a great TV show, it's a trip back in time when you might have picked up two comic books now selling the tens of thousands of dollars for under a quarter.
The show is fantastic, Meredith, (later Batman's Penguin) and Alan Alda are worth the cost of the DVD alone."
A series of rare depth, power & humanity
William Timothy Lukeman | 02/17/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's astonishing to watch these stories, created during the early 1960s, and realize just how much TV was capable of providing when talented writers, actors & directors were allowed to tell real stories. Even with the restrictions of the culture in general & the networks themselves, TV could produce true quality that both entertained & left the viewer with food for thought.It's a treat to see so many gifted actors at the beginnings of their careers, especially with such literate material. Let me especially single out "Hold For Gloria Christmas," the story of a dying poet struggling to send a precious gift to the future; and "The One Marked Hot Gives Cold," a poignant & heartbreaking tale of the inevitable betrayals & disappointments that come with growing up. Robert Duvall is remarkable as an angry, wounded, yearning man searching desperately for the father who abandoned him, while acting in turn as a surrogate father & friend for a sensitive 12 year old girl, knowing that she's going to be hurt, knowing that he's prolonging her fairy tale, but hesitant to destroy it even as he tries to prepare her for the end of childhood innocence.But every episode is equally worthy, each one more like a small film than a weekly TV episode. I hope that the entire series is eventually released on DVD. If only TV could be this good today! Highly recommended!"