He Walked by Night

Richard Basehart in He Walked by Night (dir. Alfred Werker, 1948).

The docu-style police procedural that Dragnet was based on. Richard Basehart is flawless as a very blank young electronics whiz and cop killer. Nice touch: he has a cute dog. Jack Webb has a small role as a forensics expert. The finale in the LA storm drains is a fine showcase for John Alton's cinematography--too bad the print I saw was so poor.


Hedwig said...

I thought this was such a strange movie, I really didn't know what to think of it, couldn't even decide whether I agreed with its inclusion in a "noir" box I own. What do you think, does is qualify just for that sewer chase?

Philosophe_rouge said...

I have this on DVD, and I recommend tracking down a good copy for the visuals. Otherwise though, I find the film rather uninteresting and forgetteable.

K. Silem Mohammad said...

I've given up on "noir" as a fixed category, but even so, I think this one pretty clearly counts: you've got the gritty scenes of violent urban crime; you've got tough-talking cops; you've got the amoral central character and his claustrophobic, panicked perspective at the climax; and most of all, you've got Alton's evocative camera work with all its high contrast and chiaroscuro and venetian blinds and such.

I think it's a memorable film for that last reason alone, but also for Basehart's performance, and for the way the film develops the pseudo-documentary police procedural format that Anthony Mann used in T-Men, Border Incident. I read at IMDb that Mann was an assistant director or something on it--I never realized before how integral his involvement was to the procedural genre.