He Walked by Night is the film that spawned the Dragnet franchise, which debuted on radio the following year. The film has the whole “the names have been changed to protect the innocent” line and it even features Jack Webb, who went on to play Joe Friday in the ’60s TV series. The film is a straightforward, quasi-documentary police procedural about the manhunt for a cop killer. It’s presented in a very dry style by director Alfred L. Werker, but the on location shooting in L.A. adds much to the story – particularly in the intense sewer chase at the end. As far as procedurals go, I prefer Dassin’s The Naked City, but He Walked By Night has its own merits.
I figured I’d round out 2013 with a New Year’s Eve-centric caper. Repeat Performance came across my radar during the Christmas crime week and I read that it takes place on Dec. 31, so there ya go. Perfect. It’s a pretty good fantasy-noir hybrid, kinda like Groundhog’s Day but set over a year instead of a single day. The plot is pretty cool: a woman gets to relive the previous year in order to right some wrongs that led to her shooting her husband. But Repeat Performance goes a bit over the top for my tastes and it can be painfully melodramatic at times. There is some great stuff going on about predestination and challenging fate, but overall the whole film failed to entertain.