FOLLOW ME QUIETLY. RKO Radio Pictures, 1949. William Lundigan, Dorothy Patrick, Jeff Corey, Nestor Paiva. Screenplay: Lillie Hayward, based on a story co-written by Anthony Mann. Director: Richard O. Fleischer.

   Even though noir maven Eddie Muller recently showed this as part of his “Noir Alley” series on TCM, in his comments afterward he had to fess up and admit that Follow Me Quietly is not a noir film at all. Never the less, it’s a film that comes closer to noir than a lot of films that also aren’t but are dumped into the category anyway.

   This is has little to do with the story line — if anything, this is nothing but a straight-forward police procedural — but it does have a lot to do with the filming, the stylish camera work and lighting, starting with the opening scene, as we watch girl reporter Ann Gorman (Dorothy Patrick)’s feet as she paces back and forth in the rain in front of a small diner while waiting for Lt. Harry Grant (William Lundingan) for some details of the case he’s currently working on.

   The sending is quite striking, too, as we see Grant chasing down the serial killer he’s finally closing in on. The conclusion takes place in some sort of waterworks plant (?), which allows for scene after scene filled with spectacular background shots of pipes and conduits of some sort, railings and walkways, taken from all kinds of angles.

   What comes in between? A fairly ordinary cop film, with an added plus of a romance between the two primary stars that’s only semi-convincing. One unusual visual aspect that I’ve never seen before is instead of the usual police artist’s rendition of the killer’s face (which no one still living has seen) is the creation of a three-dimensional rendition of his body in the form of a faceless dummy.

   This leads to one chilling moment in the middle of the film, which I won’t tell you anything more about — it will more effective if you see it for yourself without warning — but one that’s negated (and truthfully, so is the entire film, if you think about it) when the strangler of at least seven people turns out to be a quiet nebbish sort of guy.

   Lundigan was a competent actor but he was also probably too good-looking to be the primary protagonist in a noir film. Dorothy Patrick, on the other hand, an actress whom I don’t recall ever seeing before, does just fine as a pest of a reporter who’s always in his hair.