He Walked by Night
was a "B" movie released by Eagle Lion Films in late 1948 and early 1949. The credited director is Alfred L. Werker, but no one disputes that the actual director is the masterful Anthony Mann (who apparently took over production soon after it was begun). The movie was part of a series of increasingly accomplished noirs by Mann, including Railraoded! (1947), Desperate (1947), T-Men (1947), Raw Deal (1948), and Border Incident (1949). It's my favorite of the series; it manages to perfect the "docudrama" style begun in T-Men and Raw Deal, and it contains some of the most striking cinematography of the decade, creating a gripping combination of procedural and suspense. There are public domain videos available, but MGM/UA released on a good, quality DVD in 2003, which is still in print.

What It's About

A patrol cop is on his way home when he stops a suspicious man (Richard Basehart) on the street. The man shoots the cop, and thus begins a citywide manhunt for the mysterious killer, named Roy. Two police detectives, Marty Brennan (Scott Brady) and Chuck Jones (James Cardwell), are assigned to the case. The film flips back and forth between the criminal's brilliant efforts to stay ahead of the law, by changing his operating procedure and staying underground. The cops are mostly stuck, but occasionally stumble upon a clue or two, such as a shell casing, and the fact that the killer tried to sell a piece of stolen electronics. Eventually, the cops locate the killer, leading to an extended chase through the storm drains of Los Angeles. A narrator (Reed Hadley) provides details over the action as if it were a news report.

categories Cinematical