Before there was Zodiac … before there was "Dragnet" … there was He Walked by Night—the original Los Angeles police procedural.
When a cop stops a suspicious man on the street late one night, the suspect shoots the officer, setting off a city-wide manhunt. Diverging from noir's penchant for romance, glamour, and action, He Walked by Night instead focuses on forensic science, bureaucracy, and the routine ennui of police work. Along with Naked City (also 1948), He Walked by Night revolutionized crime films by incorporating elements of documentary realism, setting a new standard for cop movies and changing the way the genre would be filmed for decades to come. A modest poverty row production, He Walked by Night also introduced a cast and crew of then-unknowns who turned out to be important cinema and television figures: Richard Basehart (La Strada) as the psycho, Jack Webb ("Dragnet") as a forensic scientist, cinematography from John Alton (The Big Combo), and – most importantly – un-credited co-direction from noir and western auteur Anthony Mann (Raw Deal, The Furies).
Director: Alfred Werker & Anthony Mann. 79 mins. 1948. 35mm.
Part of the series L.A. Law in conjunction with Not Coming to a Theater Near You, presented by the film blog of the same name.
Ticket Price: $12, Film Club Member: $8.
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