Day 26 of Noirvember: City That Never Sleeps (1953)

I fell in love with this movie the first time I saw it. I can’t exactly put my finger on what it was that took such a hold of me – maybe it’s the way it opens with a voiceover by the city itself. (“I am the city . . . I am the voice, the heartbeat of this giant, sprawling, sordid and beautiful, poor and magnificent citadel of civilization.”) Or the fact that the “city” in question is none other than Chicago, which happens to be where I was born and raised. Or perhaps it’s because it takes place on a single night.

Or it could be the way the film weaves together the stories of its rich set of characters: Johnny Kelly (Gig Young), a disillusioned cop who plans to resign from the force the next day, leave his wife, and run away with his mistress; Johnny’s lover, Sally “Angel Face” Connors (Mala Powers), a nightclub dancer; Gregg Warren (Wally Cassell), who performs as a “mechanical man” in a department store window and who’s also in love with Sally; crooked attorney Penrod Biddell (Edward Arnold),  who hires Johnny to put the finger on an overly ambitious man on his payroll; Hayes Stewart (William Talman), the ambitious man in question, a former magician-turned-thief; and Biddell’s beautiful but duplicitous wife, Lydia (Marie Windsor).

Johnny isn’t too fond of the Mechanical Man.

Favorite character:  

This was a tough one, let me tell ya. There aren’t a whole lot of lovable characters in this one, you know what I mean? Not even characters that you love to hate. Or hate to admire. So I’m going to go out on a limb and choose the mechanical man, Gregg. Not because I was particularly fond of him – he was actually pretty pathetic up until the last five minutes of the film. But one thing I can say is that he definitely made an impression. I first saw this film nearly 20 years ago, and I primarily remembered two things: (1) I liked it, a lot, and (2) the mechanical man.

Favorite quote:

“I feel like I’m in a cement mixer getting slowly chopped and pounded to death. I’ve seen all that I can stand to see.” Johnny Kelly

~ by shadowsandsatin on November 26, 2017.

3 Responses to “Day 26 of Noirvember: City That Never Sleeps (1953)”

  1. I enjoyed this one, but I would put it in third place behind While The City Sleeps and The Sleeping City–now that I’ve finally figured out which is which.

  2. […] parts, Young landed starring roles in a pair of noirs, Hunt the Man Down (1950) for RKO and City That Never Sleeps (1953) for Republic Studios. In non-noir performances, he earned Oscar nominations for Come Fill […]

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