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While the City Sleeps

Released May 30, 1956 1h 40m Mystery & Thriller List
91% Tomatometer 22 Reviews 66% Audience Score 500+ Ratings
A serial killer is on the loose in New York City. Dubbed "The Lipstick Killer," he has also strangely become the center of a power struggle between three division chiefs in a media empire. The directive from their inexperienced boss, Walter Kyne (Vincent Price), is simple: Whoever catches the killer gets promoted to executive editor. But newspaper editor John Day Griffith (Thomas Mitchell) has one distinct advantage in the form of crack reporter Edward Mobley (Dana Andrews). Read More Read Less
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Critics Reviews

View All (22) Critics Reviews
Dave Kehr Chicago Reader The story is a cynical twist on Lang's famous M. Oct 15, 2014 Full Review Miranda Kiek Independent (UK) Although you could run a horse and carriage through the plot, the dialogue isn't bad. Rated: 2/5 Oct 15, 2014 Full Review Variety Staff Variety Plot intricacies are deftly interwoven, with director Fritz Lang doing a topflight job of balancing the ingredients without dragging the pace. Mar 26, 2009 Full Review Nick Rogers Midwest Film Journal Fritz Lang’s framing of people in places of power also emphasizes the dizzying speed with which they rise, fall or simply burrow deeper into the building’s basement bar. Too bad the initial pulsing, personal urgency leeches as the narrative loses itself. Rated: 3/5 Nov 1, 2023 Full Review André Bazin L'Obs (France) Even when he is reduced to working with scant means or idiotic stories, Lang can create something of substance. Dec 9, 2021 Full Review Matt Brunson Film Frenzy A few less narrative coincidences could have elevated this to the level of Lang's noir classics The Big Heat and The Woman in the Window. As it stands, it's still a tasty treat. Rated: 3/4 Aug 30, 2021 Full Review Read all reviews

Audience Reviews

View All (67) audience reviews
Shadowman4710 A fairly good crime drama about members of a media conglomerate trying to solve a serial killer's murder spree. Dana Andrews leads a first cast that includes, Rhonda Fleming, Ida Lupino, George Sanders, Vincent Price and Howard Duff. The acting is first rate and the direction is also good. The ending is a little and down right silly in spots but overall, it's a solid thriller. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 09/04/23 Full Review Steve D Good idea bad script and characters. Rated 2 out of 5 stars 07/05/23 Full Review deke p Newsroom drama, very complex. GREAT CAST. BTW, Howard Duff & Ida Lupino got married 5 years later in 1951. She looked beautiful & sophisticated in this one. Directed by FRITZ LANG! This has been on the tv set Movie Channel often. Saw it again 1.20.2022 Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 03/30/23 Full Review matthew d Fearsome serial killer pitted against a serial columnist in Fritz Lang's frightening film noir! Director Fritz Lang's crime drama thriller While the City Sleeps (1956) is one of the great film noir pictures from the great German auteur. His dark tale of a newspaper firm attempting to hunt down a killer before the cops all to obtain a better executive director position is searing with critique of greedy corporate types. What kind of man would want to stop a serial killer for a job instead of preventing the brutal deaths of young women? Lang understands the film noir genre well as he had already directed the mighty M and gets to get into the mind of the serial killer once more. While the City Sleeps a murderer strikes in the dark within Fritz Lang's moody atmosphere and shocking violence. Writers Casey Robinson and Charles Einstein find the right pleasant tone of endearing romance and swift comedy to juxtapose the viciousness of these killings. I love how they show exactly how a successful paper runs alongside its newswire program and nightly news segments at the whims of egotistical men and poor workers. Editor Gene Fowler Jr.'s snappy cuts keep While the City Sleeps moving frantically towards new clues and sudden murders for a fast paced 100 minutes that never gets boring. Cinematographer Ernest Laszlo's black and white wide shots capture a dreary cityscape and quirky company office, while closing in with striking close-ups on victims and the killer alike. His camerawork lets you into the viewpoint of the killer as well as setting up shots so that we can see things coming with visual hints. It's all quite neat. Carroll Clark's stellar art direction shows murders and plots set in motion with many hand shots to tell the story visually. You get Jack Mills' sterile and stuffy office set decoration, while the homes are eccentric and quirky for comparison. Composer Herschel Burke Gilbert's score is intense with a lovely melody to it to keep things light until the darker moments. Norma Koch's fancy costumes look both stylish and sleazy with Gustaf Norin's sleek to sweaty make-up. Everything feels realistic on some ethereal level of appearances. Dana Andrews' fast talking newspaper reporter meets the demands of his superiors with a nonchalance that's fun, while his playful romantic manner with the adorable Sally Forrest is quaint. She's so endearing as the sweet Nancy and it's wonderful to see her act alongside her mentor Ida Lupino, who is gorgeous as the promiscuous Meredith. Phonda Fleming's cheating wife is fun with her suspicious activities that are unnoticed by her doting husband Vincent Price. Price is fun as the rich moron inheriting a news agency, especially as he pits his leading men against one another all for profit and position. George Sanders is his usual smarmy self and Thomas Mitchell is hysterical as he tries to best Sanders for the news executive job in a very funny and likable role. Howard Duff is calm and reassuring as the police detective searching for John Drew Barrymore's sinister and mad murderer. I liked Vladimir Sokoloff's sweet janitor here in the beginning too. In the end, Fritz Lang always delivers enthralling direction and While the City Sleeps is no different. Fantastic film noir from a master director who engages you with a multitude of characters and terrible possibilities as to who might be murdered. I recommend While the City Sleeps for a refined film noir that's all too entertaining. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 03/31/23 Full Review jason m Has a wonderfully modern, sardonic, cynical quality that makes it last through the ages. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 03/30/23 Full Review paul d I was a bit underwhelmed by Fritz Lang's While the City Sleeps. It has going for it two very strong and intertwined story lines, one about job competition, human deceit and manipulation, and the other a sordid crime mystery that everyone is trying to solve to help them advance their careers. While it is all highly improbable, these stories raise lots of interesting and important questions about people. But they couldn't overcome for me a rather dull look and feel. Visually it was straightforward and a bit boring, nothing like his top films. Perhaps they need a restored print to do it justice, or maybe Lang was deliberately moving against his signature style and went too far? In terms of the movie's "feel", the underlying cynicism weighs it down, and the "happy" ending was so incongruous that it seemed suspiciously like being a studio requirement. Despite a star-studded cast, only Rhonda Fleming and Howard Duff seemed natural and unmannered. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 03/31/23 Full Review Read all reviews
While the City Sleeps

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Movie Info

Synopsis A serial killer is on the loose in New York City. Dubbed "The Lipstick Killer," he has also strangely become the center of a power struggle between three division chiefs in a media empire. The directive from their inexperienced boss, Walter Kyne (Vincent Price), is simple: Whoever catches the killer gets promoted to executive editor. But newspaper editor John Day Griffith (Thomas Mitchell) has one distinct advantage in the form of crack reporter Edward Mobley (Dana Andrews).
Director
Fritz Lang
Producer
Bert E. Friedlob
Screenwriter
Charles Einstein, Casey Robinson
Distributor
Continental Home Vídeo [br], RKO Radio Pictures, Image Entertainment Inc.
Production Co
RKO Pictures
Genre
Mystery & Thriller
Original Language
English
Release Date (Theaters)
May 30, 1956, Wide
Release Date (Streaming)
Oct 30, 2012
Runtime
1h 40m
Sound Mix
Mono
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