Sunday, May 10, 2009
T-MEN (1947) - Anthony Mann
...as in Treasury Men. In case you've ever wondered what the dude at 7-11 is doing when he holds your sawbuck up to the florescent light before ringing up your Slurpee, he doesn't have a hard-on for Hamilton -- he's just making these guys' lives a little easier. T-Men may seem to have a cushy job compared to other government toughs in the FBI or CIA, but you just try busting up a counterfeit bills ring and see if you don't come out with a few bloody knuckles.
For the most part, T-Men is a boiler plate crime procedural, complete with Naked City style third-person omniscient narrator, a nice and tidy little undercover plot, and a bathhouse investigation scene that could have provided the tame template for the much racier Eastern Promises.
The highlight here is cinematographer John Alton's crackerjack black and white noir shooting. Otherwise, T-Men's look into the world of underworld counterfeiting just scratches the surface. If you like hearing slumming palookas talk "quality plates" and "top-notch paper" this may be your bag. But if you want the fine print, stick to the Dafoe storyline in Friedkin's To Live and Die in L.A.