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Dir. Alfred Werker (credited) and Anthony Mann (uncredited), 1948
USA, 79 min.
In English

The template for Dragnet and a direct inspiration for dozens of police procedurals, HE WALKED BY NIGHT is based on the story of Erwin "Machine Gun" Walker, a WWII vet who began a series of burglaries which resulted in multiple gunfights with police, leading to his arrest in 1946. That role is played in the film by a young Richard Basehart, whose ice-cold performance became his breakout role. Charming at times, brilliant at others, but with a deep sociopathic core, Basehart's move from vet to safecracker to mad-dog killer prevents the docudrama angle from bogging down. Hunted down by Scott Brady (SHOTGUN SLADE, a million westerns, and a final role as the sheriff in GREMLINS!) and Roy Roberts (basically *every* tv show in the late 50s-60s), we get a look at the details of detective work more in line with Homicide/L&O/CSI than most films of the time, from false leads to confused witnesses.

It's Alfred Werker's name as director, but most film historians put the bulk of the work on the shoulders of Anthony Mann (EL CID, WINCHESTER '73. THE FAR COUNTRY), and fans of his earlier docudramas RAW DEAL and T-MEN will be able to see his influence right away. Fans of LA noir will find a lot to love here, with a dramatic chase through the Los Angeles sewers (later a key location for the film THEM! among a million others), absolutely stunning lighting by cinematographer John Alton, and none other than Jack Webb as lab tech Lee Whitey. Overlooked by too many for too long as an early film with "promise", HE WALKED BY NIGHT is actually as deeply tense, dark and ambiguous a noir as one could ask for. If that doesn't sell you, note that chunks of this film were later used in the Lon Chaney Jr. sleeper creeper THE INDESTRUCTIBLE MAN!


124 South 3rd Street
Brooklyn, NY 11249
United States



Kid Friendly: No
Non-Smoking: Yes!
Wheelchair Accessible: No


Owner: Spectacle Theater, Inc.
On BPT Since: Mar 05, 2014
Spectacle Theater

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