7.2/10
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74 user 44 critic

He Walked by Night (1948)

This film-noir piece, told in semi-documentary style, follows police on the hunt for a resourceful criminal who shoots and kills a cop.

Directors:

(as Alfred Werker), (uncredited)

Writers:

(story), (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

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Storyline

In the Post-World War II, in Los Angeles, a criminal shots and kills a police officer in the middle of the night. Without any leads, the chief of the LAPD assigns Sgt. Chuck Jones and Sgt. Marty Brennan to investigate the murder and apprehend the culprits. When the dealer of electronics devices, Paul Reeves, is caught selling a stolen projector, the police identifies the criminal, and connects him to other unsolved robberies. Using the witnesses of his heists, they draw their face, but the true identity of the smart and intelligent criminal is not disclosed. The perseverance of Sgt. Marty Brennan in his investigation gives a clue where he might live. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Savage TRUTH! Stronger than Fiction! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Release Date:

10 May 1949 (Argentina)  »

Also Known As:

The L.A. Investigator  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Loosely based on the real-life 1946 crime spree of Erwin "Machine Gun" Walker (1918-1982). Unlike the character in the film, Walker was captured, tried and sentenced to death for first-degree murder. On April 14, 1949, two days before his scheduled execution, Walker attempted suicide and the execution was postponed. A psychiatric board pronounced him insane and he was sent to the Mendocino State Hospital for the next 12 years. Declared sane again in 1961, his sentence was commuted by the governor to life without parole. From 1970-74 he filed several motions to appeal his case, twice making it to the California Supreme Court. The second time the court vacated the "without parole" part of his sentence. Walker applied for and was granted parole in 1974. He then legally changed his name, worked as a chemist and died in 1982. See more »

Goofs

When Roy Martin confronts Reeves in Reeves' bedroom, Martin's shadow changes position depending upon whether the shot is from behind Reeves or from a closer position. See more »

Quotes

Narrator: And so the tedious quest went on. Sergeant Brennan wore out his shoes and his patience going from police station to police station, checking photos until his eyes were blurry. For police work is not all glamour and excitement and glory. There are days and days of routine, of tedious probing, of tireless searching. Fruitless days. Days when nothing goes right, when it seems as if no one could ever think his way through the maze of baffling trails a criminal leaves. But the answer to that is ...
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Connections

Featured in The World Famous Kid Detective (2014) See more »

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User Reviews

 
One of the most influential, yet overlooked, movies of all time.
11 October 2001 | by (northridge, ca) – See all my reviews

Most hardcore film buffs probably don't know that "He Walked By Night" is one of the most influential and important movies ever made. Literally. It is an accurate account of the 1947 manhunt for the most cunning criminal in the history of the Los Angeles Police Department. "He Walked By Night" is a turning point in the detective movie, displaying the real-life police procedures used in searching for a criminal, which include teamwork and technology, and showing far more realistic characters than other flicks did. Other movies of this era showed phony, daring detectives engaging in shoot-em-ups with criminals while wooing a woman. "He Walked By Night" captures reality in a stark and startling way, with excellent black-and-white photography from John Alton. Though Scott Brady was probably too young (24) as the lead detective in this movie, his realistic performance is a welcomed relief from the over-the-top camp performances from actors in other detective movies, such as Dick Powell's in "Murder My Sweet" and Alan Ladd's in every one of his detective movies.

The realistic technique of this movie was so innovative, that Jack Webb (who has his first good-sized role in this movie) used this technique in making his 1940s radio show "Dragnet." When he brought "Dragnet" to television in 1951, the style of the show influenced countless other shows, launching realistic police drama in television. This realistic style is very noticeable in TV shows today, such as "Law and Order," and "NYPD Blue."

As influential as "He Walked By Night" was, it is also a finely acted, finely directed, well-written, and intense police movie. It is being re-released on DVD under "The Great Cops Movies," so don't miss it.


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