Tuesday, December 16, 2008

While The City Sleeps

Fritz Lang | 1956 | 100 mins | USA

I'm not sure if this Fritz Lang gem is "little known" or if I've been under a rock lately, but I'd never heard of While The City Sleeps until tonight, when my Noir mood led me to it.

Dana Andrews plays Edward Mobley, a Pulitzer prize winning reporter who works on the TV portion of the media empire of Amos Kyne, an aging mogul who kicks the bucket just as a hot news story comes in about the "Lipstick Killer" who's been offing young single girls around New York.

Kyne's wastrel son Walter (played with an impecably smarmy tone by Vincent Price) takes over the family business and immediately sets about pitting the top men in the office against each other for a spot as his right hand man. The news wire chief, Mark Loving (George Sanders), the managing editor John Day Griffith (Thomas Mitchell) and photographer 'Honest' Harry Kritzer (James Craig) are in a race against time to catch the killer before he strikes again, and snag the coveted Executive Director position. Meanwhile, Mobley just tries to keep his fiancee Nancy (Sally Forrest) happy while fending off the advances of womens' columnist Mildred Donner (hot hot Ida Lupino).

Of course, it's all really up to Mobley (a man without a lust for power) to find the killer, save the media empire from falling into the wrong hands and restore peace to his relationship. It's a tough job, but if anyone can do it surely it's a smooth talking, hard drinking newspaper man.

While the City Sleeps isn't more newspaper-romance than it is a mystery story, but it's still fun, fast paced noir thriller with plenty of razor sharp banter and sexy dames. Oh, and John Barrymore Jr. is fabulous as the menacing, silent 'mama's boy' killer. Don't worry, that's not a spoiler. You get to see him in action before the opening credits even roll.

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