He Walked by Night


1h 19m 1948
He Walked by Night

Brief Synopsis

After killing a cop, a burglar fights to evade the police.

Film Details

Also Known As
29 Clues, The L.A. Investigator
Genre
Drama
Action
Crime
Film Noir
Release Date
Dec 1948
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 24 Nov 1948; New York opening: 5 Feb 1949
Production Company
Eagle-Lion Films, Inc.
Distribution Company
Eagle-Lion Films, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 19m
Film Length
7,092ft (8 reels)

Synopsis

At one o'clock on a June night in Los Angeles, Officer Robert Rollins of the Hollywood Police Division is shot by a young man who was attempting to rob a radio shop. Before he lapses into a coma, Robert crashes his car into the killer's car, and when the police arrive on the scene, they discover an arsenal of war navy equipment in the trunk. After Robert dies, his friends, Sergeants Marty Brennan and Chuck Jones, take on the case under police captain Breen. Meanwhile, the killer, Davis Morgan, has been selling stolen electronics equipment that he has rebuilt to an honest electronics store owner named Paul Reeves. One day following the murder, Morgan gives Reeves a television projector to rent, and a customer named Dunning recognizes it as a projector he built and calls the police. Later when Morgan returns to the store, Chuck and Marty are waiting to arrest him. Morgan is armed, however, and shoots Chuck, paralyzing him, then is himself shot as he escapes. At his courtyard apartment in Hollywood, Morgan removes the bullet. Later, wearing various disguises, Morgan perpetrates a string of liquor store robberies, which end in his disappearance in the city's 700 miles of storm drains. Lee, a Hollywood Division forensics officer, reports to Breen that the bullet casings from the liquor store heists match those of the Rollins and Jones shootings. Breen then meets with the robbery victims and builds a composite of the thief's face, which Reeves confirms is Davis Morgan. A nationwide circulation of Morgan's picture proves that he is virtually unknown in the crime world. After Morgan visits Reeves at his home to get money, the police become convinced that Morgan is still in Los Angeles. Frustrated by the case, Marty takes two weeks off, during which time he visits Chuck, who tells him his theory that Morgan is a policeman. A search of area police stations reveals that years earlier, Morgan worked as a radio technician for a Los Angeles division. After a Hollywood postal worker recognizes Morgan from his route at the Bellevue courtyard apartments, Breen and Marty catch him at home. Morgan escapes into the sewers, where he is eventually hunted down and shot.

Film Details

Also Known As
29 Clues, The L.A. Investigator
Genre
Drama
Action
Crime
Film Noir
Release Date
Dec 1948
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 24 Nov 1948; New York opening: 5 Feb 1949
Production Company
Eagle-Lion Films, Inc.
Distribution Company
Eagle-Lion Films, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 19m
Film Length
7,092ft (8 reels)

Articles

He Walked by Night - He Walked By Night


Inspired by the true story of Erwin Walker, a WWII hero who turned to crime and terrorized Los Angeles in 1946, He Walked By Night (1948) is a remarkable low budget, film noir thriller that is often overlooked in film studies of this genre. Besides Richard Basehart's chilling performance as a meticulous thief of electronics equipment who becomes a wanted cop killer, the film glistens with the stylized black and white cinematography of John Alton whose use of light has been compared to the lighting in Rembrandt paintings. The film could well serve as a primer on how to shoot a film noir since it incorporates all of the familiar elements of the genre so masterfully into the visual design of the film: splintered shadows from Venetian blinds that transform a cozy bedroom into a prison, street lights over patches of wet pavement, a brief pinpoint of light from a hastily lit match in a dark room. Most memorable of all is the chiaroscuro camerawork in the final sequence as Davis Morgan - Richard Basehart's character - is pursued through the huge drainage canals underneath Los Angeles by the police. This was the first time this unusual locale was used in a film and it would later serve as an equally disturbing setting - the lair of giant mutant ants - for the science fiction thriller, Them! (1954).

Although Alfred L. Werker is credited as the director of He Walked By Night, most film scholars acknowledge Anthony Mann as the true creative force behind it. For reasons not documented, Mann took over the direction from Werker at a fairly early stage and you can see his distinctive imprint on such scenes as the one where Morgan extracts a bullet from himself or the nighttime shootout in the electric company between Morgan and Sergeant Brennan (Scott Brady). The Mann influence is also confirmed by the presence of screenwriter John C. Higgins and cinematographer John Alton, both of whom collaborated with Mann on previous projects. Higgins wrote the screenplays to Mann's Railroaded! (1947), T-Men (1947), Raw Deal (1948), and Border Incident (1949) while Alton photographed the director's Reign of Terror (1949), Devil's Doorway (1950), and several others.

He Walked By Night obviously made quite an impression on Jack Webb. The actor, who appears in this film as a character named Lee, would later produce his own TV series, Dragnet, which copied the semi-documentary approach used in He Walked By Night. Another interesting side note is the fact that He Walked By Night, along with two other film noir titles - T-Men and Canon City (1948), was financed by a silent partnership between Joe Breen, the head censor of the Hays Office, and Johnny Roselli, a Chicago businessman who served as a liaison between the mob and the Hollywood craft unions. Roselli had actually worked in the Hays office at one time and after later serving time for extortion, reestablished his relationship with Breen. According to author Eddie Muller in Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir (St. Martin's Press), "Roselli left Hollywood to help the Chicago boys establish their foothold in Vegas. He later was a middleman in negotiations between the Mafia and the CIA to assassinate Fidel Castro. His show business career ended on a yacht off Miami, when he was butchered, stuffed into an oil drum, and set adrift by hoodlums who'd seen too many Charles McGraw movies."

Producer: Bryan Foy, Robert Kane
Director: Anthony Mann, Alfred L. Werker
Screenplay: John C. Higgins, Crane Wilbur
Art Direction: Edward L. Ilou
Cinematography: John Alton
Film Editing: Alfred DeGaetano
Original Music: Leonid Raab, Irving Friedman
Principal Cast: Richard Basehart (Davis Morgan), Scott Brady (Sgt. Marty Brennan), Roy Roberts (Capt. Breen), Whit Bissell (Reeves), James B. Cardwell (Chuck Jones).
BW-79m.

by Jeff Stafford

He Walked By Night - He Walked By Night

He Walked by Night - He Walked By Night

Inspired by the true story of Erwin Walker, a WWII hero who turned to crime and terrorized Los Angeles in 1946, He Walked By Night (1948) is a remarkable low budget, film noir thriller that is often overlooked in film studies of this genre. Besides Richard Basehart's chilling performance as a meticulous thief of electronics equipment who becomes a wanted cop killer, the film glistens with the stylized black and white cinematography of John Alton whose use of light has been compared to the lighting in Rembrandt paintings. The film could well serve as a primer on how to shoot a film noir since it incorporates all of the familiar elements of the genre so masterfully into the visual design of the film: splintered shadows from Venetian blinds that transform a cozy bedroom into a prison, street lights over patches of wet pavement, a brief pinpoint of light from a hastily lit match in a dark room. Most memorable of all is the chiaroscuro camerawork in the final sequence as Davis Morgan - Richard Basehart's character - is pursued through the huge drainage canals underneath Los Angeles by the police. This was the first time this unusual locale was used in a film and it would later serve as an equally disturbing setting - the lair of giant mutant ants - for the science fiction thriller, Them! (1954). Although Alfred L. Werker is credited as the director of He Walked By Night, most film scholars acknowledge Anthony Mann as the true creative force behind it. For reasons not documented, Mann took over the direction from Werker at a fairly early stage and you can see his distinctive imprint on such scenes as the one where Morgan extracts a bullet from himself or the nighttime shootout in the electric company between Morgan and Sergeant Brennan (Scott Brady). The Mann influence is also confirmed by the presence of screenwriter John C. Higgins and cinematographer John Alton, both of whom collaborated with Mann on previous projects. Higgins wrote the screenplays to Mann's Railroaded! (1947), T-Men (1947), Raw Deal (1948), and Border Incident (1949) while Alton photographed the director's Reign of Terror (1949), Devil's Doorway (1950), and several others. He Walked By Night obviously made quite an impression on Jack Webb. The actor, who appears in this film as a character named Lee, would later produce his own TV series, Dragnet, which copied the semi-documentary approach used in He Walked By Night. Another interesting side note is the fact that He Walked By Night, along with two other film noir titles - T-Men and Canon City (1948), was financed by a silent partnership between Joe Breen, the head censor of the Hays Office, and Johnny Roselli, a Chicago businessman who served as a liaison between the mob and the Hollywood craft unions. Roselli had actually worked in the Hays office at one time and after later serving time for extortion, reestablished his relationship with Breen. According to author Eddie Muller in Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir (St. Martin's Press), "Roselli left Hollywood to help the Chicago boys establish their foothold in Vegas. He later was a middleman in negotiations between the Mafia and the CIA to assassinate Fidel Castro. His show business career ended on a yacht off Miami, when he was butchered, stuffed into an oil drum, and set adrift by hoodlums who'd seen too many Charles McGraw movies." Producer: Bryan Foy, Robert Kane Director: Anthony Mann, Alfred L. Werker Screenplay: John C. Higgins, Crane Wilbur Art Direction: Edward L. Ilou Cinematography: John Alton Film Editing: Alfred DeGaetano Original Music: Leonid Raab, Irving Friedman Principal Cast: Richard Basehart (Davis Morgan), Scott Brady (Sgt. Marty Brennan), Roy Roberts (Capt. Breen), Whit Bissell (Reeves), James B. Cardwell (Chuck Jones). BW-79m. by Jeff Stafford

Kenneth Tobey (1917-2003)


Kenneth Tobey, the sandy-haired, tough-looking American character actor who appeared in over 100 films, but is best remembered as Captain Patrick Hendry in the Sci-Fi classic, The Thing From Another World (1951), died on December 22nd of natural causes at a hospital in Rancho Mirage, California. He was 86.

Born in Oakland, California on March 23, 1917, Tobey originally intended to be a lawyer before a stint with the University of California Little Theater changed his mind. From there, he went straight to New York and spent nearly two years studying acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse, where his classmates included Gregory Peck, Eli Wallach and Tony Randall. Throughout the '40s, Tobey acted on Broadway and in stock before relocating to Hollywood. Once there, Tobey soon found himself playing a tough soldier in films like I Was a Male War Bride and Twelve O' Clock High (both 1949); or a tough police officer in Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye and Three Secrets (both 1950). Such roles were hardly surprising, given Tobey's craggy features, unsmiling countenance and rough voice.

Needless to say, no-nonsense, authority figures would be Tobey's calling for the remainder of his career; yet given the right role, he had the talent to make it memorable: the smart, likeable Captain Hendrey in The Thing From Another World (1951); the gallant Colonel Jack Evans in the "prehistoric dinosaur attacks an urban center" genre chiller The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953, a must-see film for fans of special effects wizard, Ray Harryhausen; and as Bat Masterson, holding his own against Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster in Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957).

Television would also offer Tobey much work: he had his own action series as chopper pilot Chuck Martin in Whirlybirds (1957-59); and had a recurring role as Assistant District Attorney Alvin in Perry Mason (1957-66). He would also be kept busy with guest appearances in countless westerns (Gunsmoke, Bonanza, The Virginian) and cop shows (The Rockford Files, Barnaby Jones, Ironside) for the next two decades. Most amusingly, the tail end of Tobey's career saw some self-deprecating cameo spots in such contemporary shockers as The Howling (1981); Strange Invaders (1983) and his role reprisal of Captain Hendry in The Attack of the B-Movie Monsters (2002). Tobey is survived by a daughter, two stepchildren, and two grandchildren.

by Michael T. Toole

Kenneth Tobey (1917-2003)

Kenneth Tobey, the sandy-haired, tough-looking American character actor who appeared in over 100 films, but is best remembered as Captain Patrick Hendry in the Sci-Fi classic, The Thing From Another World (1951), died on December 22nd of natural causes at a hospital in Rancho Mirage, California. He was 86. Born in Oakland, California on March 23, 1917, Tobey originally intended to be a lawyer before a stint with the University of California Little Theater changed his mind. From there, he went straight to New York and spent nearly two years studying acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse, where his classmates included Gregory Peck, Eli Wallach and Tony Randall. Throughout the '40s, Tobey acted on Broadway and in stock before relocating to Hollywood. Once there, Tobey soon found himself playing a tough soldier in films like I Was a Male War Bride and Twelve O' Clock High (both 1949); or a tough police officer in Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye and Three Secrets (both 1950). Such roles were hardly surprising, given Tobey's craggy features, unsmiling countenance and rough voice. Needless to say, no-nonsense, authority figures would be Tobey's calling for the remainder of his career; yet given the right role, he had the talent to make it memorable: the smart, likeable Captain Hendrey in The Thing From Another World (1951); the gallant Colonel Jack Evans in the "prehistoric dinosaur attacks an urban center" genre chiller The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953, a must-see film for fans of special effects wizard, Ray Harryhausen; and as Bat Masterson, holding his own against Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster in Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957). Television would also offer Tobey much work: he had his own action series as chopper pilot Chuck Martin in Whirlybirds (1957-59); and had a recurring role as Assistant District Attorney Alvin in Perry Mason (1957-66). He would also be kept busy with guest appearances in countless westerns (Gunsmoke, Bonanza, The Virginian) and cop shows (The Rockford Files, Barnaby Jones, Ironside) for the next two decades. Most amusingly, the tail end of Tobey's career saw some self-deprecating cameo spots in such contemporary shockers as The Howling (1981); Strange Invaders (1983) and his role reprisal of Captain Hendry in The Attack of the B-Movie Monsters (2002). Tobey is survived by a daughter, two stepchildren, and two grandchildren. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The film's working titles were 29 Clues and The L.A. Investigator. Credits on the viewed print were missing; the above credits were taken from a cutting continuity deposited in copyright records. A written foreword on the viewed print states that this film was based on a case history taken from the detective files of the Los Angeles Police Department, with whose cooperation the film was made. Hollywood Reporter further stated that the film, which had a "semi-documentary" style, was based on the murder of a Pasadena policeman by a youth who worked in the police's fingerprinting department. Daily Variety reports that Los Angeles police aided in research for the film, and that police sergeant Marty Wynn, credited on the screen as technical advisor, was a member of the force. A narrator introduces the audience to Los Angeles through a photographic montage in the film's opening. Actor Jack Webb, who plays a forensics expert in the film, become known for his characterization of Los Angeles police detective "Sgt. Joe Friday" in the popular NBC television series Dragnet, which he also created and narrated, and based on case files of the Los Angeles police. The original series ran intermittently from January 3, 1952 through September 1959 and was revived in a second series, which aired from January 1967 to September 10, 1970. As noted in modern sources, Anthony Mann, who directed Eagle-Lion's early 1948 semi-documentary release T-Men (see below), completed the directing assignment on He Walked By Night for Alfred Werker. Several reviews lauded the film's final chase scene, shot in what New York Times called "700 miles of hidden highways" that make up the giant underground tunnels of Los Angeles' storm drain system.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Fall November 1948

Released in United States 1983

Released in United States Fall November 1948

Released in United States 1983 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (A "B-Movie" Marathon) April 13 - May 1, 1983.)