The "lipstick killer", a serial murderer who leaves the cryptic message "Ask Mother" at the crime scenes, is at large in the Big City. Vincent Price, the wastrelly inheritor of a major newspaper chain, offers a large… More The "lipstick killer", a serial murderer who leaves the cryptic message "Ask Mother" at the crime scenes, is at large in the Big City. Vincent Price, the wastrelly inheritor of a major newspaper chain, offers a large cash reward to any of his staffers able to find out the identity of the elusive killer. This leads to a great deal of infighting amongst Price's reporters, especially cynical journalist Dana Andrews, photographer James Craig, "sob sister" Ida Lupino, and wire service chief George Sanders. Integrity and human values are not considerations in the race for the gold: one of the contestants, in fact, willingly offers his girl friend as bait for the killer. Adapted by Casey Robinson from a novel by Charles Einstein, While the City Sleeps features Thomas Mitchell as a scheming managing editor, Rhonda Fleming as Price's faithless wife, and John Barrymore Jr. as the mixed-up murderer, who in the end is more pawn than predator. To inject a bit of much-needed humor in the proceedings, director Fritz Lang inserted a scene wherein Ida Lupino puts the make on Dana Andrews by tantalizing him with a nude photograph -- which turns out not to be of Ida but of a baby on a bear rug. Producer Bert Friedlob hated the scene, and insisted upon cutting it out. Lang offered a compromise: if the preview audience laughed, the scene stayed. They laughed, but Friedlob insisted upon extending the preview process until he came across an audience who wouldn't laugh (they always did, and the scene is still in the film). Though a huge moneymaker for the flagging RKO Radio Pictures, While the City Sleeps was actually produced independently, and originally slated for United Artists release before RKO agree to distibute the film.