Saturday, February 28, 2015

He Walked By Night (1948)

An atmospheric, tightly-paced police procedural, directed by Alfred Werker and an uncredited Anthony Mann, and groundbreaking at the time for its use of actual events from the case files of the LAPD. The plot follows the investigation into the murder of a policeman, and the search for the killer, an ex-police radio operator who uses his knowledge of the department's operations to stay one step ahead of the cops. Well-acted by Richard Basehart, Scott Brady, Roy Roberts and Jack Webb (whose own, later procedural TV series "Dragnet" was inspired by this film). It remains one of the best post-war police dramas, thanks largely to Basehart's intense performance as the criminal, its extensive use of LA locations (most memorably the complex underground sewer system, which is used quite effectively in the film's climactic chase sequence), and for its stunning, high-contrast B&W photography by the great John Alton. One of the best films of its kind.

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