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With: Richard Basehart, Scott Brady, Roy Roberts, Whit Bissell, James Cardwell, Jack Webb
Written by: Crane Wilbur, John C. Higgins, Harry Essex, based on a story by Crane Wilbur
Directed by: Alfred L. Werker, Anthony Mann
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 79
Date: 11/24/1948

He Walked by Night (1948)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Sewer Viewing

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This is one of my favorite films noir, made on the cheap at Eagle-Lion Films. Alfred Werker is credited as director, but almost any history book or video guide will tell you that Anthony Mann actually directed most of it, right on the heels of his equally great T-Men and Raw Deal. Like those films, it's told in a kind of documentary style, with lots of seemingly mundane details, and yet as a police procedural it generates plenty of suspense. The great cinematographer John Alton creates his usual, high contrast shadows and angles and achieves some of his greatest work with the climactic chase through the Los Angeles sewers (a year before a similar sewer chase in The Third Man). Co-star Jack Webb was so inspired that he went on to create the TV show "Dragnet." The plot puts a couple of police detectives on the trail of a crafty, mysterious cop killer who eludes capture by listening to a police radio. The film is in the public domain, but MGM released the definitive DVD edition in 2003.

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