Saturday 26 June 2010

He Walked By Night

I've been on a slight Anthony Mann kick of late - what with recently tackling "The Naked Spur", "Winchester '73", "The Man From Laramie" and "Border Incident" - and I see no reason to slow down. Though I'm a bigger fan of the Noir genre (John Alton's work with Mann is stunning), the Westerns have been enormously entertaining and I was really struck by the direction in "The Naked Spur" and Mann's ability to really work with and around the natural surroundings.

So anyway, a week or so ago, I stumble across the evening's TCM lineup and note that two true crime films are being shown. One of them was "He Walked By Night" which was a film that was already high up on my list of movies to see. I set the PVR to do its thing and watched it the next day. As I'm settling in with Robert Osborne's introductory comments, he mentions that director Alfred L. Werker fell ill during the shoot and had to be replaced. The new director took the job on one condition - that Werker retain the only on screen credit. Any guesses as to who the new man at the helm was? Yep, Anthony Mann. As it turns out, TCM had been showing a couple of Mann films as well (and will be again this coming Wednesday June 30th).

The film is pretty damn spiffy. It's taut, holds solid suspense and doesn't overdo the typical "based on a real crime" story narration and plodding police procedural steps of many of its counterparts. However, it's the cinematography that really impresses - it's absolutely gorgeous (once again, Alton lensed it). I took these screencaps directly from the TCM broadcast, so they may not be as pristine as other sources, but you can still get a good feeling for the care that was brought to every scene. In particular, the end chase scene through the underground sewers of Los Angeles is worthy of The Third Man.

Great stuff.

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