Director Richard Fleischer made a series of good tight low-budget film noirs in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s including, “Violent Saturday”, “The Clay Pigeon”, “Armored Car Robbery”, “The Narrow Margin” and “Follow Me Quietly”, a decent if pedestrian thriller. At a condensed length of barely 60 minutes, the film is worth watching as long as you are not expecting too much. This is unfortunate because the film opens up with some nice dark rainy filled streets, setting us up for what is hoped to be an atmospheric trip through some dark mean streets. Instead what we get is William Lundigan as Detective Sgt. Grant, a blander actor would be harder to find, who at first comes across in some early scenes with some potential only to slip into a state of insomnia. The female lead, played by Dorothy Patrick, is no femme fatale but a somewhat dorky journalist named Ann Gorman who works for a magazine rag and is continually trying to get Grant to give her a story on the serial killer known as “The Judge.” The strangest scene in the film takes place in Grant’s apartment when he unexpectedly finds Gorman waiting there for him, still trying to get information for a story. Grant, pretty much ignoring her goes into the bathroom takes the quickest shower on record, comes out in his pajamas and gets into bed finally agreeing to provide a story. He rolls over turning his back to her and says to her to shut the lights out as she leaves. The scene probably could have been played a lot more erotically, and maybe that was the intent, but it just seems to all fall flat. The supposed romance that develops between Grant and Gorman leads nowhere. Actually, considering the way he treated her in the beginning she should have had no interest in him anyway except for professional reasons.
The aforementioned serial killer, “The Judge” whom Grant becomes obsessed with capturing, is of the letter writing school of serial murderers, those who cut out letters from newspapers and paste them on a sheet of paper sending them to the police. Of course, he is called “The Judge” as he sets himself up as judge and jury to his victims’ for their alleged sins. From the various clues that have been left behind Grant and his crack team put together a life like though faceless dummy of “The Judge” to give fellow officers an idea of what the killer looks like. This later will lead to the most effective scene in the film that takes place in Grant’s office. As an aside, the faceless dummy is reminiscent of the old Dick Tracy comics’ character, which had a criminal with a blank face known as Frankie Redrum, aka The Blank. Yes, redrum is murder spelled backward just like in “The Shining.”
The ending itself , somewhat reminiscent of “White Heat” and “He Walked by Night” , is decent enough, through nowhere near as exciting and like most of the film it seems to promise more than it can deliver.
While Fleischer is credited as the sole director is has been suggested that Anthony Mann may have directed some scenes. Mann was a co-writer on the film and it has been previously written how the film’s ending is similar to other Mann works. Film writer Jeanine Basinger in her book “Anthony Mann” writes that Mann’s footprints can be seen in “the visual presentation of the final shoot-out in an abandon chemical plant and in the mixture of a semi-documentary police story and an atmospheric murder mystery.” However, she adds that without access to RKO files it is difficult to say for sure what input Mann had. The one certain highlight is the camerawork by Robert De Grasse whose other works include “The Men”, “Born to Kill” and nourish films like Val Lewton’s “The Leopard Man” and “The Body Snatcher.”
Overall, “Follow Me Quietly” is certainly worth watching as long a your are not expecting to find a buried treasure.