While the City Sleeps
While The City Sleeps is based on a 1952 novel by Charles Einstein, The Bloody Spur. Charles Einstein is a famous “Einstein”. Not the smart Einsteins. Not the bagel Einsteins. The secret Hollywood Einsteins. One half-brother, Bob Einstein, is Super Dave Osborn, and the other half-brother, Albert Einstein, is Albert Brooks. Pretty Cool. Charles Einstein (no secret identity) was a Chicago sports writer that specialized in writing about gambling and baseball. But in 1952, he took a leap and wrote a book about the lurid Chicago Lipstick murders. At one murder scene the killer left a message scrawled in red lipstick:
sake catch me
before I kill more
I cannot control myself.
The book was a mega- hit.
Hollywood came knocking. Fritz Lang signed a 2-picture deal with Einstein. However, by the time he and his screen writer were done in 1956, changes were made. Less emphasis on the murderer (John Barrymore, Jr.*), more on the rakish news crews.
Lang skewers the media mercilessly with his accomplished cast of newsy narcissists. By the end of the film most feel more sympathy for the wacko sex crazed killer than the line-up of back-stabbing reporters in a killer finding contest. So TMZ!
While The City Sleeps is considered one of Lang’s best films of the 50’s. Lang considered it one of his faves. Old DVDs are available from Amazon for freakishly high prices. Or copies on Ebay (equally high).
Aftermath. Charles Einstein never published another best-seller. But he did turn up 20 years later as a writer on the Lou Grant TV show. Shortly after filming this movie, Fritz Lang returned to Europe. More artistic freedom — of course. The Real Lipstick Killer, William Heirens, recanted his confession, and remains alive and imprisoned at Dixon Correctional Center in Dixon, Illinois.
Very Fine to Near Mint. 1956 Window Card. While The City Sleeps. This window card is a little more scarce due to the Red Lipstick writing across the poster. Makes for a much better graphic. All colors are bright. Very pale tanning. No pinholes. No rips or tears or any kind. No folds.
*If you google John Barrymore, Jr. and William Heirens and compare photos you will get an idea of how far the “adaptation” strays from reality.