He Walked By Night

1948, Movie, NR, 79 mins

Review

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This is a smashing film noir entry with Basehart as Davis Morgan, a brilliant, cold-hearted thief with underlying psychopathic tendencies that chill the viewer to the bone. Morgan is an electronics wizard who robs stores and warehouses to obtain electrical equipment which he modifies and then rents out to Reeves (Bissell). The Los Angeles police are in a quandary about this successful burglar since Morgan listens in on their radio network and cleverly alters his modus operandi so that his work appears to be that of another burglar. With cops Brennan (Brady) and Breen (Roberts) hot on his trail, Morgan attempts to escape into the vast sewer system beneath Los Angeles.

Director Werker (with an uncredited assist from Anthony Mann) does a fine job in maintaining the hectic pace, and Basehart is gripping as the lone, loveless thief who even sacrifices his dog when the going gets tough. His role is based on the career of thief and cop-killer Erwin Walker, a WWII hero turned burglar who terrorized LA in 1946. This film marked the first time the huge drainage system canals in Los Angeles were employed in a film; they would later be put to heavy use in THEM!, GREASE, and a number of other productions. Jack Webb drew the inspiration for his long-running documentary-style television series "Dragnet" from this film, in which he played a featured role. leave a comment

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