He Walked By Night (Werker, Mann, 1948)

It seems He Walked By NIght was the inspiration for Dragnet, which makes perfect sense since it exemplifies a common bare bones approach seen in many Post War television cop dramas. This sometimes brutal, always intriguing film is a solid “by the books” police story, a step above the more monotonous Dragnet feature film. But He Walked By Night still lacks a sense of character found in some of the other more stylish Noir’s of the era, more dead pan than inventive, more timely than dynamic. Seems Anthony Mann directed portions of the film, but it’s unclear to me where his touch lies. Culminates in a stunner of an ending – multiple policemen tracking the illusive cop killer through the underground sewage drains of Los Angeles, harsh Noir lighting creating caverns and shadows of unclear psychosis. This is where cinematographer John Alton’s camera shines, a la his later ventures with Stanley Kubrick.

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