15 May 2015 | hitchcockthelegend
Funny thing how he always strikes in the rain.
Follow Me Quietly is directed by Richard Fleischer (with uncredited help from Anthony Mann) and adapted to screenplay by Lillie Hayward from a story written by Mann and Francis Rosenwald. It stars William Lundigan, Dorothy Patrick, Jeff Corey, Nestor Paiva and Paul Guilfoyle. Music is by Leonid Raab and cinematography by Robert De Grasse.
A serial killer known as "The Judge" is stalking the city, his modus operandi is to strike when it rains and to kill by strangulation. The police have loads of little clues but nothing solid to go on. The strain is starting to weigh heavy on Lt. Harry Grant (Lundigan), but he comes up with a genius idea to help catch the killer - a mannequin!
Not widely known, but once released to MOD home format it got more noticed and has been keenly sought out by fans of the great Anthony Mann. It has proved a little divisive so this fawning review should be taken with a little context. Clocking in at just under an hour in length, Fleischer's film is by definition a compact RKO "B" picture, but the quality of story, and the little slices of noir craft, ensure it's got plenty of strengths going for it.
In essence it's an early police procedural dealing with the hunt for a serial killer. There's a babe in the mix, Dorothy Patrick as an intrepid reporter who announcers herself to the film wearing a see through mackintosh, which of course is splendid. She teams up with Grant, not as a fatale, but as a sort of wry cohort, suggestion is evident, sexual tension even, but nothing is shoe-horned in to the pic. The cops are all stoic types, splendidly attired for period delights, but it's with Lundigan's head of investigations where the film gets its pulse beat. He gets in deep with the psychological aspects of the case, thinking like the killer, talking to the faceless mannequin that has been constructed out of clues left by the killer, the mirror images of the killer and mannequin are not exactly a million miles away from Lundigan himself. Cheeky is that.
Mann's stamp is all over the film, but Fleischer's work is evident for sure, an economical purist meets the crafty auteur, a fine match. Robert De Grasse (The Body Snatcher/Born to Kill) is a key component, operating with angles and shades when required, there's a distinct uneasy feel to proceedings. A few scenes grab the attention with full effect, akin to a spider inviting a fly to dinner, which all builds to a head, culminating in a blunderbuss finale at an oil refinery - cum - power plant. Only where White Heat (also 1949) went nighttime for its coup de grace, Follow Me Quietly did it in daylight. Cheeky is that.
It's not perfect. Some logic holes are there as regards the water effect with the killer, which also leads us to lament a lack of reasoning and understanding with the perpetrator. There's also a couple of instances where the mannequin is played in a rear shot by a real actor, why? I have no idea. While the best scene in the film, as Lundigan chats to the dummy in a darkened room - and the rain falls hard on the windows - brings about a reveal that makes no sense what so ever. Especially once "The Judge" is revealed. However, this is easy to recommend to noir heads and fans of police procedurals, and I loved it. 8/10