The House on 92nd Street

FBI personnel at work in The House on 92nd Street (dir. Henry Hathaway, 1945).

Detainment and internment montage.

Surveillance operation.

The Naked City was the first film shot entirely on location in New York City, but The House on 92nd Street, which preceded it by three years, lays the groundwork for it. The films also share the device of the newsreel-style voiceover, which in House's case is so rooted in documentary materials that it was clearly designed in part to fool viewers into thinking they were watching a reenactment of historical fact. In truth, the story is a combination of two actual FBI cases, with the added fiction that the nazis almost had their hands on the plans for the atomic bomb. There's an interesting gender-related twist to the embellishments as well, which I won't say too much about. The good guys are earnest slabs of plywood, and the villains are reasonably colorful ogres (Signe Hasso is striking as stylish blonde she-wolf Elsa Gebhardt). The most engaging character appears for less than five minutes: George Shelton as a Vaudeville promoter, who delivers his lines naturally and gregariously ("Chess? Boy, there is a lousy game.").

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