Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|He Walked By Night|
Actor: Richard Basehart; Jack Webb
Director: Alfred Werker
Genres: Mystery & Suspense
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HE WALKED BY NIGHT (1948)
dustman | Lenoir, NC USA | 06/29/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"HE WALKED BY NIGHT (1948)
"All units, all units in the vicinity of State Street and Santa Monica Boulevard proceed at once to 5057 State Street, five-oh five seven State Street. An officer shot. Code 3." The dragnet is cast and all points are notified. But what officers Marty Brennan (Scott Brady) and Chuck Jones find is a mortally wounded patrolman. The wounded officer had noticed a suspicious character outside a radio/television supply company. Upon bracing the fellow the unfortunate policeman is overwhelmed and fatally shot.
Thus begins an intriguing story of a cunning, resourceful criminal. Someone who, had he not turned toward his "left hand endeavors", might have been a successful inventor or electronics engineer. HE WALKED BY NIGHT is a film that works on several levels. It's a fine police procedural drama (supposedly based on a true story). It truly delves deep into the dark avenues of noir. Richard Basehart, as the clever burgler turned cop killer Roy Martin, is really great in this role. Were it not for the fact that he has brutally murdered a policeman (with a wife and family) one might almost feel sorry for him, hounded as he is, relentlessy to his death.
The cat-and-mouse-chase is very well presented. Martin adapts to every situation and has devised clever ways to elude capture. When necessary, the killer can easily change his modus operandi. He begins a score of armed robberies using various disguises. He employs the "vast and intricate" system of storm drains underneath LA streets as his cache for weapons, stolen goods and as a very effective avenue of escape.
Jack Webb, as a police lab specialist, is instrumental in helping with the case by identifying tell-tall ejection marks on discarded shell casings found at three different crime scenes. Other techniques are used such as a spot-on composite sketch of the suspect and lab analysis of nitro-glycerin discovered in Martin's discarded bag of tricks. The volatile material had been cleverly desensitized to average jostling but explosive when needed. Clearly this was no run of the mill hoodlum they were after. Whit Bissell (as an unwitting accomplice in Martin's larcenies) is at his mousey best. He's guilty of stealing some scenes. Fine actor.
Alfred L. Werker was given directorial credit but it's widely known that this was indeed Anthony Mann's film. The cinematography, by John Alton, is superb! Especially brilliant are the sequences shot in the tunnels underneath Los Angeles. It makes me wonder if Carol Reed might have been influenzed by this film as it preceeds THE THIRD MAN by one year.
The film may have minor flaws but all-in-all it maintains an air of realism throughout. I saw this film years ago and it is to my shame that I didn't notice the quality of it then. Look out top ten list, I'm going to have to rearrange you once again!
"I didn't ask for a collection of fingers, just fingerprints." Captain Breen (Roy Roberts) dryly commenting on an explosives test conducted with the comfiscated nito-glycerin. Roy Roberts played Captain Huxley in the Gale Storm/Zazu Pitts vehicle "Oh, Sussannah"
Trivia: Jack Webb, struck up a friendship with a police technical advisor on this film, and was inspired to create the radio and (later) television program Dragnet. "I was working daywatch out of homicide. My name is Friday. I carry a badge."