He Walked by Night is a high-tension crime meller, supercharged with violence but sprung with finesse. Top credits for this film’s wallop is shared equally by the several scripters, director Alfred Werker and a small, but superb cast headed by Richard Basehart.
Yarn is a straightforward documentary-style saga of a psychotic but brilliant killer who is tracked down through dogged detective work. Taken allegedly from the files of the Los Angeles police department, film opens with the brutal murder of a cop and follows through in detailing the criminal’s career while the dragnet is closing in. There are no romantic angles in this all-male operation to slow matters down.
Starting in high gear, the film increases in momentum until the cumulative tension explodes in a powerful crime-doesn’t pay climax. Striking effects are achieved through counterpoint of the slayers ingenuity in eluding the cops and the police efficiency in bringing him to book. High-spot of the film is the final sequence which takes place in LA’s storm drainage tunnel system where the killer tries to make his getaway.
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With this role, Basehart establishes himself as one of Hollywood’s most talented finds in recent years. He heavily overshadows the rest of the cast, although Scott Brady, Roy Roberts and Jim Cardwell, as the detectives, deliver with high competence. Film is also marked by realistic camera work and a solid score.