The plot of The Naked City (1948) is pretty straight-forward noir fare. A young model is killed in New York City and detectives are on the case to find out who committed the crime. As far as plot go, it's pretty unremarkable. However, the film itself was ground-breaking. It's the first movie ever to be filmed on location in New York city. Scenes were shot in the streets, in real apartments, in real buildings and with real people. The "extras" were real bystanders walking the streets. The movie was a sort of documentary/film hybrid. The story is fictional but the locations and all their elements are very real.
This is the city as it is. Hot summer pavements, the children at play, the buildings in their naked stone, the people, without makeup.
These words are read by Hellinger at the end of the film's introduction and they are important. The film is stripped down of any of the glamour Hollywood was known for. It is literally a film without makeup. None of the actors in the film are particularly glamorous or showy. None are big name stars. They look like average folk working their way through a naked and gritty version of New York City. In fact, the only glamour in the film is killed off in the very beginning. The young model is murdered in her apartment and she is seen only in shadow and darkness. Her jewelry and other baubles are stolen and we never see them. Even the model's friend, who works in the same industry, is seen in a less glamorous light than one would expect. She is more victim than celebrated beauty. In this film, fanciness was removed and the grit was exposed. What we see throughout the rest of the movie are slices of the lives of the working class and shots of the city in all its naked, bare beauty. These elements make this not only an excellent film noir, but a superb movie all-around.