In While the City Sleeps (1956), a zillionaire dies and leaves his media empire to his feckless playboy son (Vincent Price). The feckless scion cruelly dangles the CEO job in front of the company’s top talent, plunging them into a ruthless competition. Whoever solves the Lipstick Killer Murders will win the prize, and plenty of boardroom backstabbing ensues.
While the City Sleeps benefits from a killer cast. Star columnist Dana Andrews (and the audience) weighs in on the side of old school Thomas Mitchell – but it’s going to a tough fight against arrogant George Sanders and oleaginous James Craig (here even more slippery than Sanders). One of these guys is having an affair with their new boss’ trophy wife (Rhonda Fleming). Ida Lupino is a cynical free agent. And Andrews his using his own girlfriend (Sally Forrest) as bait for the serial killer! A tragic figure in real life, John Drew Barrymore, has a small but important role. The cast is so deep that noir leading man Howard Duff is stuck playing the cop.
While the City Sleeps is directed by one of the giants of cinema, Fritz Lang, the German auteur of Metropolis and M. After WWII, Lang had an productive noir period in Hollywood, churning out Moontide, Scarlet Street, House by the River, The Blue Dahlia, The Big Heat, Human Desire (my favorite Lang noir) and Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.
While the City Sleeps plays frequently on Turner Classic Movies and streams on Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube, Google Play and Xbox Video.