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He Walked by Night
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Beautifully restored and first time on Blu-ray in this special edition.
When a Los Angeles police officer is savagely gunned down, a city-wide manhunt ensues for his cunning and ruthless killer.
But finding the murderer, chillingly played by Richard Basehart in only his third film, proves difficult for Detective Marty Brennan (Scott Brady) and his colleagues as Basehart's Roy Morgan is always one step ahead of the law. Will modern police methods and sheer determination be enough to find the elusive cop-killer before he strikes again?
Visually stunning, cinematographer John Alton's brilliant use of light and shadows shine in this groundbreaking police procedural that paved the way for the TV series Dragnet; which itself spawned an entire sub-genre of television crime-dramas that are still popular to this day.
Based on true events, He Walked by Night was directed by Alfred L. Werker, along with an uncredited Anthony Mann (who is believed to be responsible for the film's most iconic scenes). Co-written by John C. Higgins (Raw Deal) and Crane Wilbur (The Phenix City Story), it also features Jack Webb who went on to create and star in the aforementioned Dragnet.
The mono soundtrack has been restored is uncompressed on this release.
Audio Commentary by biographer and producer Alan K. Rode & writer and film historian Julie Kirgo Below the Surface: He Walked by Night - Featurette with cinematographer Richard Crudo, film critic & author Todd McCarthy, writer and film historian Julie Kirgo, film historian & director Courtney Joyner and biographer & producer Alan K. Rode
Image gallery with rare stills and posters
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It's a public domain film.
Amazon will sell you dim-looking copies from Alpha Video or Nostalgia Family Video or "Mr Fat-W Video" or even MGM Video (slightly better-looking than the rest).
None of these have any bonus features worth mentioning.
I never heard of Classic Flix before 2017,
but they have brought us the first decent copy ever of this important film noir (Blu-Ray or DVD):
-- Beautifully restored picture and sound.
-- English SDH subtitles.
-- Informative audio commentary by Alan K. Rode & Julie Kirgo.
-- Twelve minute featurette on the making of the film.
-- 24 Page booklet with photos, movie posters and very helpful article by Max Alvarez which clears up a lot of the confusion about the director of this film.
Only one drawback:
It's expensive: $30 on Amazon versus as low as $2.50 for a public domain DVD.
The new Classic Flix Blu-Ray is worth it.
"He Walked by Night" is officially credited to veteran director Alfred Werker,
but at least one-quarter of it was directed by the legendary Anthony Mann (see Max Alvarez' article in the booklet).
Mann and cinematographer John Alton are responsible for one of the most striking scenes in film noir:
The final seven minutes of the film where police pursue Richard Basehart through the Los Angeles sewer system.
Actually filmed in the Los Angeles sewer system. Yecch.
Between 1944 and 1950 Anthony Mann directed seven (maybe eleven) films noir.
Four with cinematgrapher John Alton.
All are on DVD.
Three are on deluxe Blu-Rays from Classic Flix (T-Men, He Walked by Night, and Raw Deal)
1944 Strangers in the Night (sort of noir)
1945 The Great Flamarion (sort of noir)
1945 Two o’Clock Courage (sort of noir)
1946 Strange Impersonation (sort of noir)
1947 T-Men (Special Edition) - Blu-ray * (first real noir)
1947 Desperate - in a four DVD box: Film Noir Classic Collection: Volume Five
1948 He Walked by Night (Special Edition) - Blu-ray * (Alfred Werker is listed as director, but Mann finished the film for an indisposed Werker)
1948 Raw Deal (Blu-ray) - Special Edition *
1949 Border Incident * - in a six DVD box: Film Noir Classic Collection, Vol. 3 (Border Incident / His Kind of Woman / Lady in the Lake / On Dangerous Ground / The Racket)
1950 Side Street - in a five DVD box: Film Noir Classic Collection, Vol. 4 (Act of Violence / Mystery Street / Crime Wave / Decoy / Illegal / The Big Steal / They Live By Night / Side Street / Where Danger Lives / Tension)
* Cinematography by John Alton
Wikipedia also credits Mann as co-directing ‘Follow Me Quietly’ (1949), but that is an error.
He wrote the first draft of the screenplay, but left RKO before filming began.