Saturday, September 19, 2015
T MEN (1947)
Hardly a dull moment as Anthony Mann directs this story about Treasury Men going undercover to break a counterfeiting ring. An excellent film noir with outstanding cinematography by John Alton and an appropriate score by Paul Sawtell. Amazing what could be done with less than a five-hundred grand budget. Distributed by Eagle-Lion Films, this production cleaned up at the box office. After an informer is murdered, the Treasury Department decides to enlist Dennis O’Keefe and Alfred Ryder as undercover men. O’Keefe is first rate in his standout role as he leaves his earlier music or comedy films behind him. Both men encounter a myriad of criminals but he and Ryder blend into the crime world without suspicion. In the beginning. Plenty edge-of-your-seat moments. None more intense than when O’Keefe witnesses his partner’s demise and cannot do anything about it without blowing his own cover. The creepy steam room scenes are a little unsettling as well. Or maybe it is just the thought of Wallace Ford sweating under a towel. The era’s details on producing phony bills is surely dated and the film is not without flaws, as when a federal agent comes down hard on a shop owner for not noticing when she gets counterfeit bills. This is after already establishing that it takes an expert, under a magnifying glass, to know the difference from real bills. Few were as menacing as Charles McGraw, the hit man, during this period. He always appeared on the edge of violence with a voice that could leave abrasions on your face. This is one of the best examples of film noir produced during this era and should be on your list for sure.