An emergency room doctor steps outside the hospital to have a smoke before beginning his morning rounds. As he takes in the air, approaching footsteps are heard. He turns his head in time to see a gun pushed into his face at point-blank range and fired. Who would perform such a risky hit in broad daylight, and why? Is it mob-connected? Is there a maniac on the loose? Thanks to some basic medical training in his past, Detective Rowan (Richard Conte) is chosen by the NYPD homicide squad to get to the bottom of the case by going undercover as a medical intern at the hospital in question. That's the set-up for The Sleeping City, a tight little noir film recently screened during Film Forum's B-Noir festival. Among its credits are a lean, focused script, an appropriately creepy and sometimes hilarious villain, and noir favorite Coleen Gray, an actress with a face like a baby eagle who you never think will turn out to be rotten but sometimes does. An added bonus of The Sleeping City is that it holds our attention by offering a panoramic view of old New York, with its working automats, less than fully-erect skyline, and omnipresent smokers who don't know they will be the subject of smug giggles from a future audience of their fellow New Yorkers.

categories Cinematical