7.2/10
3,963
81 user 46 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:

Alfred L. Werker (as Alfred Werker), Anthony Mann (uncredited)

Writers:

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

Complete credited cast:
Richard Basehart ... Roy Martin / Roy Morgan
Scott Brady ... Police Sgt. Marty Brennan
Roy Roberts ... Police Capt. Breen
Whit Bissell ... Paul Reeves
James Cardwell ... Police Sgt. Chuck Jones
Jack Webb ... Lee Whitey
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Storyline

In the Post-World War II, in Los Angeles, a criminal shoots 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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish | Chinese

Release Date:

10 May 1949 (Argentina) See more »

Also Known As:

The L.A. Investigator See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Bryan Foy Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The subterranean chase scenes in this film convinced a Warner Bros. executive to use the storm drain tunnels under Los Angeles for the climactic scenes in Them! (1954). That film's original story idea to have the giant ants invade New York City's subway system was scuttled partly due to budget constraints, but mainly because of the horrified reaction of NYC transportation secretary William J. Daley to such a suggestion. See more »

Goofs

When running through the sewers, electric cords powering the the flashlights are visible 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.
See more »

Connections

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

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User Reviews

 
Lone bandit evades police clutches.
31 August 2009 | by SpikeopathSee all my reviews

This is a true story...

It's known to the Police Department of one of our largest cities as the most difficult homicide case in its experience. Principally because of the diabolical cleverness, intelligence and cunning of a completely unknown killer.....The record is set down here factually-as it happened. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Cracking little noir picture this one. Richard Baseheart is Davis Morgan, a cold and calculated thief and murderer. He is not only unknown to the police, but also to the Los Angeles underworld. Something which made him a terrifying ghost on the streets. Based on the real life case of cop-killer come thief Erwin Walker, who in 1946 struck terror into the heart of LA, He Walked By Night zips along at a frenetic pace but maintains all the darkness requisites of the Film Noir genre. Directed by Alfred Walker (aided by one uncredited Anthony Mann) and also starring Jack Webb (who used the piece as inspiration for the popular "Dragnet" TV series), the picture has excellent use of shadows and a brilliant finale down in the Los Angeles drainage system. Where the sound of guns and running feet is just ferocious.

Baseheart is suitably chilling as a man coming unhinged by the day, whilst a home surgery sequence shows Baseheart to have had no small amount of ability. It's notable with Morgan's character that it's people he just doesn't like, there's a very telling scene with his dog that is sweet but at the same time saying so much about the man himself. This film reminded me very much of Edward Dmytryk's similarly fine 1952 film, The Sniper. So much so I'd say that as a double bill they be perfect for each other. With added plot worth in the form of early police forensics (check out the photo fit technique) and a largely unknown support cast adding a raw reality to proceedings, He Walked By Night comes highly recommended to fans of the Noir and Crime genres. 8/10


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