He Walked By Night

Film Noir | In English | 79 minutes | 1948

Roy Morgan is a brilliant but diabolical murderer who eludes capture by eavesdropping on the police radio frequencies. It starts when Roy shoots and kills a patrolman when Roy is suspected of being a burglar. There are no clues. Police detectives Marty Brennan and Chuck Jones are assigned to find the killer. Roy obtains his electronic equipment from Paul Reeves. The detectives find  Roy’s frequent visits to Reeves suspicious. When they ask Reeves  to name  the mysterious visitor, he confesses that it’s Roy Morgan. Roy commits an armed robbery. The police are able to get one of the bullets and take it to Lee, a forensic specialist. Lee reports that the bullet he examined came from the same gun that murdered the patrolman. The detectives now know the murderer and close in for the arrest. What ensues is a heart-stopping chase in the Los Angeles drainage tunnel system. The film was shot in a film noir style and was the inspiration for Jack Webb, a cast member, to produce his highly-successful TV series, “Dragnet.”
Richard Basehart (Roy Morgan) / Scott Brady (Sgt. Marty Brennan) / Roy Roberts (Captain Breen) / Whit Bissell (Paul Reeves) / Jack Webb (Lee)
Why Stream This Film?

Interesting how Jack Webb, playing just a minor role in the film, was able to parlay this format it into one of the most successful TV series of all time, “Dragnet.” The film was also an early pioneer in that it simulated a documentary.

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus) 83% 83%
  • Locarno International Film Festival: Special Prize, Best Police Film

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HE WALKED BY NIGHT is a high-tension crime thriller, supercharged with violence but sprung with finesse. Starting in high gear, the film increases in momentum until the cumulative tension explodes in a powerful crime-doesn’t-pay climax.
Staff Report


This is a smashing film noir film with underlying psychopathic tendencies that will chill the viewer to the bone. 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.
TV Guide

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