Tuesday, March 11, 2008

RIP Malvin Wald

I picked up Criterion's typically fine DVD of Jules Dassin's The Naked City (1948) last year, thought I'd blog something about it, and never did. And now its Oscar-nominated co-screenwriter has passed away, at age 90; fortunately, Wald contributed a commentary track for the disc, a highly influential slice of New York City life (pictured, with detective Barry Fitzgerald) that has barely aged a day in 60 years. Its hard-hitting documentary style is ubiquitous, no matter what naked city we're in (The Wire). Wald wrote or co-wrote a few noirs, the brave Ida Lupino rape picture Outrage (1950), and Al Capone (1959) with Rod Steiger, and lots of TV. But the first of the "eight million stories in the Naked City," based on his own experiences growing up on the mean streets of Brooklyn, is his signature achievement, both timeless and a reminder of a time when tough New York City dicks went home to enjoy a nice meal of tongue with the family.

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