Series: The Naked City: New York Noir and Neorealism
Starting in 1945, Stanley Kubrick produced thousands of negatives for the biweekly magazine Look. Though his published photographs varied in subjects and locales, many of his images depict the uncanny everyday life in the streets and spaces of his native New York. When Kubrick decided to try his hand at motion pictures, his filmmaking debut, Day of the Fight (1951), was a cinematic adaptation of his own 1949 pictorial essay “Prizefighter” for the magazine about a Big Apple boxer. In addition, the film that he preferred to consider as his feature debut—Killer’s Kiss (1953)—also owed a debt to his work for the magazine and was shot throughout Manhattan.
This series presents ten features shot on location in and around New York during the period when Kubrick was documenting the city, up until and including Killer’s Kiss. Channeled through the tropes of film noir—a genre whose fatalistic tailspins of crime and passion befits New York’s cramped and anarchic cityscape—as the genre brushed against and sometimes cross-pollinated with the salt-of-the-earth lyricism of a budding American Neorealism, these films reveal a restless metropolis where you’re either on your way up, on your way down, or just laying low. It’s a city where you can never really disappear, not matter how dark the back alleys or how crowded the boulevards may be. Cinematically, Kubrick wouldn’t return to New York for another four decades after Killer's Kiss, albeit on a London back lot for his final film Eyes Wide Shut, where he came full circle with this vast, dark wonder of American modernity.
Special support provided by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Programmed by Bernardo Rondeau, Assistant Curator, Film. Notes writen by Brian Light and Bernardo Rondeau.