AFI Catalog of Feature Films
Movie Detail
Name Occurs Before Title Offscreen Credit Print Viewed By AFI
He Walked by Night
Alternate Title: The L.A. Investigator
Director: Alfred Werker (Dir)
Release Date:   Dec 1948
Premiere Information:   Los Angeles opening: 24 Nov 1948; New York opening: 5 Feb 1949
Production Date:   late Apr--late May 1948
Duration (in mins):   79
Duration (in feet):   7,092
Duration (in reels):   8
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Cast:   Richard Basehart (Davis Morgan)  
    Scott Brady (Marty Brennan)  
    Roy Roberts (Captain Breen)  
    Whit Bissell (Paul Reeves)  
    James Cardwell (Chuck Jones)  
    Jack Webb (Lee)  
    Robert Bice (Detective Steno)  
    Reed Hadley (Narrator)  
    Chief Bradley (Himself)  
    John McGuire (Rawlins)  
    Lyle Latell (Sergeant)  
    Jack Bailey (Pajama Top)  
    Michael Dugan (Patrolman)  
    Garrett Craig (Patrolman)  
    Bert Moorhouse (Detective)  
    Gaylord Pendleton (Detective)  
    Kenneth Tobey (Detective)  
    Jim Nolan (Detective)  
    Rory Mallinson (Detective)  
    Robert Williams (Detective)  
    Doyle Manor (Detective)  
    Bernie Suss (Business suspect)  
    George Chan (Chinese suspect)  
    George Goodman (Fighter suspect)  
    Louise Kane (Mrs. Rawlins)  
    Kay Garrett (Doctor)  
    Florence Stephens (Receptionist)  
    Tom Brown Henry (Dunning)  
    Harry Harvey (Detective Prouty)  
    Virginia Hunter (Miss Smith)  
    Ruth Robinson (Mrs. Rapport)  
    John Parrish (Vitale)  
    Earl Spainard (Kelly)  
    Alma Beltran (Miss Montalvo)  
    Anthony Jochim (Thompson)  
    Paul Fierro (Mexican detective)  
    Jane Adams (Nurse Scanlon)  
    John Dehner (Assistant chief)  
    Byron Foulger (Avery)  
    Felice Ingersoll (Record clerk)  
    Wally Vernon (Postman)  
    Dorothy Adams (Housewife)  
    Dick Mason (Mailman)  
    Donald Kerr (Mailman)  
    Charles Lang (Policeman)  
    Mary Ware (Dolores)  
    Ann Doran (Woman dispatcher)  
    Harlan Warde (C.B. officer)  
    Frank Cady (Suspect)  
    Paul Scardon (Father)  
    Charles Meredith (Desk sergeant)  
    Tim Graham (Uniformed sergeant)  
    Bill Mauch (Youth)  
    John Perri (Youth)  
    Tom Kelly (Youth)  
    Rex Downing (Youth)  
    Stan Johnson (Artist)  
    Carlotta Monti    

Summary: At one o'clock on a June night in Los Angeles, Officer Robert Rollins of the Hollywood Police Division is shot by a young man who was attempting to rob a radio shop. Before he lapses into a coma, Robert crashes his car into the killer's car, and when the police arrive on the scene, they discover an arsenal of war navy equipment in the trunk. After Robert dies, his friends, Sergeants Marty Brennan and Chuck Jones, take on the case under police captain Breen. Meanwhile, the killer, Davis Morgan, has been selling stolen electronics equipment that he has rebuilt to an honest electronics store owner named Paul Reeves. One day following the murder, Morgan gives Reeves a television projector to rent, and a customer named Dunning recognizes it as a projector he built and calls the police. Later when Morgan returns to the store, Chuck and Marty are waiting to arrest him. Morgan is armed, however, and shoots Chuck, paralyzing him, then is himself shot as he escapes. At his courtyard apartment in Hollywood, Morgan removes the bullet. Later, wearing various disguises, Morgan perpetrates a string of liquor store robberies, which end in his disappearance in the city's 700 miles of storm drains. Lee, a Hollywood Division forensics officer, reports to Breen that the bullet casings from the liquor store heists match those of the Rollins and Jones shootings. Breen then meets with the robbery victims and builds a composite of the thief's face, which Reeves confirms is Davis Morgan. A nationwide circulation of Morgan's picture proves that he is virtually unknown in the crime world. After Morgan visits Reeves at his home to get money, the police become convinced that Morgan is still in Los Angeles. Frustrated by the case, Marty takes two weeks off, during which time he visits Chuck, who tells him his theory that Morgan is a policeman. A search of area police stations reveals that years earlier, Morgan worked as a radio technician for a Los Angeles division. After a Hollywood postal worker recognizes Morgan from his route at the Bellevue courtyard apartments, Breen and Marty catch him at home. Morgan escapes into the sewers, where he is eventually hunted down and shot. 

Production Company: Eagle-Lion Films, Inc.  
Production Text: A Bryan Foy Production
Distribution Company: Eagle-Lion Films, Inc. (Pathé Industries, Inc.)
Director: Alfred Werker (Dir)
  Howard W. Koch (Asst dir)
  Stewart Stern (Dial dir)
Producer: Robert T. Kane (Prod)
Writer: John C. Higgins (Scr)
  Crane Wilbur (Scr)
  Crane Wilbur (Orig story)
  Harry Essex (Addl dial)
  Bert Murray (Substantial contr to scr)
Photography: John Alton (Dir of photog)
  Lester Shorr (Cam op)
  George Hommel (Stills)
Art Direction: Edward Ilou (Art dir)
Film Editor: Alfred De Gaetano (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Armor Marlowe (Dec)
  Clarence Steenson (Dec)
Music: Irving Friedman (Mus dir)
  Leonid Raab (Mus)
Sound: Leon S. Becker (Sd)
  Hugh McDowell (Sd)
Special Effects: George J. Teague (Photog eff)
  Jack R. Rabin (Special art eff)
Make Up: Ern Westmore (Makeup)
  Joe Stinton (Makeup)
Production Misc: Sergeant Marty Wynn (Tech adv)
  James T. Vaughn (Prod supv)
  Arnold Laven (Scr supv)
  Truman Joiner (Grip)
Country: United States
Language: English

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Pathé Industries, Inc. 13/11/1948 dd/mm/yyyy LP2291

PCA NO: 13365
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: RCA Sound System

 
Genre: Drama
Sub-Genre: Crime
 
Subjects (Major): Murder
  Los Angeles (CA)
  Police detectives
  Robbery
 
Subjects (Minor): Chases
  Liquor stores
  Paralysis
  Police lineups
  Postal workers
  Storekeepers

Note: The film's working titles were 29 Clues and The L.A. Investigator . Credits on the viewed print were missing; the above credits were taken from a cutting continuity deposited in copyright records. A written foreword on the viewed print states that this film was based on a case history taken from the detective files of the Los Angeles Police Department, with whose cooperation the film was made. HR further stated that the film, which had a "semi-documentary" style, was based on the murder of a Pasadena policeman by a youth who worked in the police's fingerprinting department. DV reports that Los Angeles police aided in research for the film, and that police sergeant Marty Wynn, credited on the screen as technical advisor, was a member of the force. A narrator introduces the audience to Los Angeles through a photographic montage in the film's opening. Actor Jack Webb, who plays a forensics expert in the film, become known for his characterization of Los Angeles police detective "Sgt. Joe Friday" in the popular NBC television series Dragnet , which he also created and narrated, and based on case files of the Los Angeles police. The original series ran intermittently from 3 Jan 1952 through Sep 1959 and was revived in a second series, which aired from Jan 1967 to 10 Sep 1970. As noted in modern sources, Anthony Mann, who directed Eagle-Lion's early 1948 semi-documentary release T-Men (see below), completed the directing assignment on He Walked By Night for Alfred Werker. Several reviews lauded the film's final chase scene, shot in what NYT called "700 miles of hidden highways" that make up the giant underground tunnels of Los Angeles' storm drain system. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   13 Nov 1948.   
Daily Variety   11 Nov 48   p. 3.
Film Daily   11 Nov 48   p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter   23 Mar 1948.   
Hollywood Reporter   11 Nov 48   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   14 Feb 49   p. 10.
Los Angeles Times   24 Apr 1948.   
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   6 Nov 48   p. 4375.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   13 Nov 48   p. 4381.
New York Times   7 Feb 49   p. 15.
Variety   10 Nov 48   p. 15.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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