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While the City Sleeps (1956)

A serial killer has been killing beautiful women in New York, and the new owner of a media company offers a high ranking job to the 1st administrator who can get the earliest scoops on the case.

Director:

Fritz Lang

Writers:

Casey Robinson (screenplay), Charles Einstein (novel)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Dana Andrews ... Edward Mobley
Rhonda Fleming ... Dorothy Kyne
George Sanders ... Mark Loving
Howard Duff ... Lt. Burt Kaufman
Thomas Mitchell ... Jon Day Griffith
Vincent Price ... Walter Kyne
Sally Forrest ... Nancy Liggett
John Drew Barrymore ... Robert Manners (as John Barrymore Jr.)
James Craig ... 'Honest' Harry Kritzer
Ida Lupino ... Mildred Donner
Robert Warwick ... Amos Kyne
Mae Marsh ... Mrs. Manners
Ralph Peters ... Gerald Meade
Sandra White Sandra White ... Judith Felton (as Sandy White)
Larry J. Blake ... Tim - Police Desk Sergeant (as Larry Blake)
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Storyline

Death of media magnat Amos Kyne is causing power struggle between his executives. In the meantime New York women become prey of a serial killer. Reporter Edward Mobley is in that circumstances faced with almost impossible missions: to catch the killer, to prevent the media empire from falling into the wrong hands and to save his romantic relationship from break-up. Written by Dragan Antulov <dragan.antulov@altbbs.fido.hr>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Suspense as startling as a strangled scream ! See more »


Certificate:

18 | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

29 March 1957 (Netherlands) See more »

Also Known As:

Terwijl de stad slaapt See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Although Howard Duff and Ida Lupino were married in real life, they have no scenes together. See more »

Goofs

When Barrymore Jr. is watching Andrews on TV, he is clutching a copy of "Tales From The Crypt". When he drops it to the floor, a close-up of the comic book now shows it to be titled "The Strangler". See more »

Quotes

Ed Mobely: What a beautiful nightgown; and it's a shortie!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Maniac (1980) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Lang's cynical critique of American values
1 October 2007 | by MOscarbradleySee all my reviews

Between 1936 and 1956, during his tenure in America, the German director Fritz Lang made some of the most psychologically astute movies ever to come out of the studio system, often working with the flimsiest of material; pulpish fiction indeed. Most of these films were thrillers, though perhaps only in the most nebulous sense of the term, dealing instead with the psychosis of the killer or, as here, with the iniquitous motives of those on the periphery of the case. 'Plot', in the strictest sense of the term, never really interested Lang, 'the story' as such being secondary to the observational detail and the characterizations. In "While the City Sleeps" the serial killer whom we expect to be at the centre is side-lined to such an extent that catching him is never the focus of attention. He's the 'McGuffin', if you like, for an entirely different movie, one in which the thriller element is dispatched in favour of a study of greed and the relationships, not always savory, between men and women.

The film is set in the world of newspapers and news agencies, so you expect an aura of venality from the outset. Vincent Price is the vain, self-centered scion of a recently deceased magnate who has taken over his father's business and wants someone else to do all the work. So he creates a new executive position then sets three of his top men against each other vying for the job. The one who 'catches' or names the serial killer terrorizing women in New York, gets it.

Like many of Lang's films, "While the City Sleeps" had the tawdry feel of a B-movie. There is a kind of rough urgency to it that a more main-streamed movie might have lacked. (You could say Lang's genius was for making silk purses out of sow's ears). He didn't work with 'stars' but character players. About the biggest name in the movie and the 'star' of the picture is Dana Andrews, (superb, he was a very under-rated actor), as the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who, like many of Lang's characters, is less noble than he first appears. As for the rest, despite there being two Oscar winners in the cast, (George Sanders, one of his poorer performances, and Thomas Mitchell, excellent), they were mainly the stable diet of the B-movie, though that said there is a terrific performance from the under-rated Sally Forrest as Andrews' girl who he is not above using as bait to catch the killer and a typically flamboyant one from Ida Lupino.

After this, Lang was to make only one more film in America before returning to his native Germany, the equally cynical "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt". Indeed it's Lang's cynicism and his critique of American values and mores that set him apart, that put him, like those other European émigrés, Otto Preminger and Douglas Sirk at a critical remove from his American counterparts. In this respect, perhaps, the only American who can be compared to him is Samuel Fuller.


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