7.3/10
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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:

From the Homicide Files of the Los Angeles Police. See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

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Release Date:

10 May 1949 (Argentina)  »

Also Known As:

The L.A. Investigator  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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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 Martin flees from his bungalow into the sewer system, the first shot shows him running in the sewer with a torch and a bag in his hand. This is the same shot as used earlier on in the film after he started robbing liquor stores. (In this later scene, he did not have a bag when he fled the bungalow nor when he entered the sewers.) See more »

Quotes

Narrator: [referring to the composite sketch] They showed that picture to the inmates of jails and prisons, to men with a wide acquaintance among the cat burglars and the violence boys. Informers and con men and sharpshooters were quizzed. Those on the fringe of crime and those deep in the rackets. Many wanted to help; nobody could. No one in the underworld recognized that mysterious face. He was as unknown as if he had lived in the 16th Century.
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Connections

Featured in Crime Wave: 50 Movie Mega Pack (2016) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Doing It By the Numbers
4 August 2006 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

Richard Basehart shoots down an LAPD officer one night after the offduty patrolman stops him for some suspicious activity. The officer who paid with his life had every reason to be suspicious, Basehart was attempting to break into an electronics store.

The shooting sets off a manhunt that takes more than a month. Captain Roy Roberts and Detective Scott Brady lead the investigation which takes both men into some unexpected places in trying to track down the culprit.

This was Richard Basehart's breakthrough role in He Walked By Night. He plays a really diabolical stone cold killer in this one who apparently has no liking for humans. His only companion in the world is a dog.

This clever little noir thriller is done in the documentary style that seemed to be in vogue after World War II. I'm also sure that the final chase scene through the storm drain must have inspired Carol Reed to put it in The Third Man where the idea got more notice.

The lack of really big name stars gives this film a realistic approach. Look for Jack Webb in a supporting role as a police lab technician. I Don't doubt he got the idea for Dragnet from working on He Walked By Night.


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