“Did you ever spend ten nights in a Turkish bath looking for a man?”
Why if I had a dime….
I thoroughly enjoyed “T-MEN.” And I’ve made a discovery. I think I might be becoming hooked on the procedural docu-drama. I’m pondering why I have this new-found interest in that genre. Perhaps it’s because it’s a kind of a…sort of a minimalistic approach to filmmaking…in a way. You use a sonorously authoritative voice ( like Reed Hadley’s ) to tell the story…he sets up all the action and the whys and wherefores; and then you cut to the scene and just show the meat and potatoes of the action. Simple…easy. But what might set “T-Men” apart from the grand-daddy of all docu-dramas, “THE HOUSE ON 92nd STREET” ( 1945 ) is John Alton.
John Alton. << (( Sigh!! )) >> As a filmmaker, I want to have his baby. He doesn’t so much paint with light as he paints with darkness. Our introduction to Charles McGraw sets the tone immediately. The silver sheen of the film made my fillings ache.
Steam baths, the camera shots from the floor looking up into a lamp, O’Keefe bowing his head as the shadow of his fedora covers his face, the Schemer on the phone in the forefront with just his eyes showing and the other guy in the background. It’s all these touches and more that makes this docu-drama visually ‘arresting’ while we’re going through all the procedures.
Dennis O’Keefe – Never crazy about this oatmeal-faced vanilla actor. But in “T-Men” he’s done an 180-degree persona switch, he plays a G-man playing a tough mobster a la Dick Powell as Philip Marlowe. Big and brawny. He sounds very natural and believable. Don’t tell me I have to give this actor a second look? ( I did. “Raw Deal.” Mama Mia! )
Alfred Ryder – Poor guy. He’s got a soft tough guy look. Married. He sees his wife on the street during his assignment and can’t acknowledge her. He won’t give away the mission. He faces his end with honor. If O’Keefe brings the grit, Ryder brings the pathos.
Wallace Ford ( ‘Schemer’ ) – Good performance from good ol’ Wally. You know the type…loser, the wannabe. I still felt bad for him in the end; trying to scheme his way out of the inevitable. With no luck. Saaaaay, when did Ford get that ‘character actor’ look? I just saw him with Joan Crawford – (remember him in “Possessed”) – no match for Gable of course, but he looked like callowed youth. This is now about ten years or so later; he’s pudgy…paunchy. Ahhhhhh, the better to Act with my dear. ( “Shadow Of A Doubt” ).
Art Smith – I love that guy. He’s the Department Chief; gives the boys their assignment. I almost didn’t recognize him. For a hot nanosecond I thought he was Harry Von Zell. Flat affect. Love that guy. Who is he? You know him…Bogie’s agent in “In A Lonely Place” – Ryan’s psychiatrist in “Caught” and Jourdan’s butler in “Letter from an Unknown Woman.” He’s an asset in whatever he’s in. Shall I mention he gets the final shot in “Brute Force”??
A Mac Truck would be less brutal
Charles McGraw – Quick, where can I hide? He’s the pin – up boy for assassins! Cold, unfeeling, unblinking, McGraw makes Charles Bronson look like sisssy. He makes me think of Robert Shaw in “From Russia With Love.” He’s ice. He’s a single-minded shark. If you ever see this man, I promise you…you are about to die.
( Quick Draw McGraw. )
Jane Randolph – Is she the boss? No, but you’ve got to get past her to SEE the boss. “The nature of the business is business Mr. Harrigan. Strictly.” I was surprised to see a woman involved in it, much less Randolph of “Cat People” fame. She was wonderfully haughty in this, calling on the spirits of those tall jobs like Eve Arden, Jayne Meadows, Hope Emerson, Andrea King and Kristine Miller. She’s the perfect way a woman in a noirish crime drama should be.
Love her long cigarette holder and the matter-of-fact spiderwoman way she says:
“About Schemer…get rid of him.”
“T-Men” is well-acted, populated with character actors who do what they do…and do it well. Gritty. What I call a man’s movie. ( Violence and black ‘n white. ) Of course; it was directed by the master: Anthony Mann.
He needs a blog post all his own. You can check out this IMDB listing for the films that illustrate his career.
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…And speaking of “THE HOUSE ON 92nd STREET” I watched the Extras that came with that DVD and they said the house on 92nd Street, was actually filmed on 93rd Street in Manhattan. I found it on 93rd Street near Madison Avenue. Check out the movie and then check my pix against them. The building is virtually unchanged since the 1945 film:
If any of you have any interest in seeing this film, please check below. Enjoy!
( H O M E )