Follow Me Quietly (1949): Film Noir, Directed by Richard Fleischer

Though poorly acted by most of the cast, and a minor film noir thematically, Follow Me Quietly suggests the talent and range that young director Richard Fleischer would show in his future movies.

The scenario, by Lillie Hayward, is based on a story by Anthony Mann (who would become a director himself) and Francis Rosenward.

The ultra conventional plot centers on a mysterious killer, known as “The Judge,” who murders men he considers “worthless” through strangulation.

Assigned to track him down, Police Lt. Harry Grant (William Lundigan) and his partner Police Sgt. Art Collins (Jeff Corey) search for clues.  They are assisted by an obnoxious magazine journalist, Ann Gorman, (Dorothy Patrick), who provides a crucial clue that leads the team to a bookstore.

After constructing a faceless dummy to help the investigation, a waitress (Marlo Dwye) helps them identify the man as Charlie Roy (Edwin Max), a regular at her luncheonette who lives in the neighborhood.

A well-photographed chase scene, set in a refinery, and an ensuing fight between Harry and the chained Charlie, occupies almost a reel of the short narrative (only 60 minutes), serving as the main reason to see this little crime picture.

The script, shallow even by standards of police procedurals, fails to give any of the characters any personality traits that would make them interesting to watch or distinctive enough to qualify as quintessential noir figures.

The resolution is disappointing: The killer turns out to be a middle-aged man whose unattractive looks presumably motivated him to become “The Judge.”

Cinematographer Robert De Grasse and editor Elmo Williams deserve credit for the picture’s above average technical merits.