Set in a post-World War II Los Angeles, He Walked by Night tells the true story of a clever but psychotic burglar who is able to consistently stay one step ahead of the law. To avoid detection, he changes his routine during nearly every crime, leaving the police lost and confused. One night the burglar shoots and kills a police officer, leading the entire department on his trail, searching for clues to his identity. Although Alfred L. Werker is credited as the director of He Walked By Night, many believe that Anthony Mann was the true creative force behind the film. From Mann's frequent collaborators like screenwriter John C. Higgins and cinematographer John Alton, to the look and feel of the film, I found it to be pretty clear that this was the work of Mann. He Walked By Night plays a lot like Mann's T-Men, using a documentary tone with narration to create a film that feels very much like a salute to the Los Angeles police department, capturing the long grueling hours and hard and tedious work that goes into protecting the general public. While the two police officers (Sgt. Chuck Jones and Sgt. Marty Brennan) who are tasked to find this criminal would be considered the main protagonists by many, Mann makes these character's rather bland and uninteresting, seemingly making a point that no individual man in the force stands out from the rest, with the police department as a whole being the main protagonist of the film. The cinematography of He Walked By Night is probably the strongest attribute of the film, with tons of beautifully shot scenes including a stylish climax in the Los Angeles Sewer which rivals Carol Reed's The Third Man in photography and intensity. Mann's He Walked By Night is another great example of an effective Film Noir, using expressionistic lighting and photography along with brutal realism to craft an ode to the Los Angeles police force.
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