Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2020) on… T-Men (1947)

Now we have yet another classic noir, the 1947 film T-Men starring Dennis O’Keefe.

After an informant is killed before he can pass on a sample of paper being used by a counterfeit ring, The U.S. Treasury Department assigns two of its agents, Dennis O’Brien (Dennis O’Keefe) and Tony Genaro (Alfred Ryder), to help take down the ring. Going undercover, Dennis (now Vannie Harrigan) and Tony (now Tony Galvani) start out with a gang connected in Detroit. They are received well, and soon learn about somebody in L.A. known only as the Schemer. Upon hearing what information the Treasury Department does have on the Schemer, Dennis goes to L.A. under the guise of running from the law, which satisfies the Detroit mobsters. Dennis is able to find the Schemer (Wally Ford), and passes off some counterfeit money in a dice game to get his attention. Dennis starts getting in good with the ring, giving them one engraving plate and promising another later. Tony is brought to L.A. as well, but a friend of his wife’s sees him and accidentally outs him in front of the Schemer. Of course, they had been working on the Schemer to get him in trouble, which results in one mobster offing him in a steam bath, before they also go after Tony. Now alone, Dennis has to figure out who the boss is and get himself out before he also potentially ends up dead.

T-Men is widely credited as being director Anthony Mann’s first successful movie. Prior to that, he had directed a few other movies, but it was T-Men that he had the freedom to try doing things his way. After working with the Treasury Department and finding out how they worked, he was able to piece ideas together . The Treasury Department gave him permission to actually film genuine U.S. currency instead of the play money that was generally required to be used. One former official and IRS director, Elmer Lincoln Irey was involved, helping to introduce the movie. Anthony Mann was also able to get cinematographer John Alton to work with him, with the two learning that their thoughts on how to do things were quite similar. Together, they created many ways of lighting and staging scenes that worked within the budget but also effectively created memorable moments.

Now, I admit, prior to Classicflix announcing this as one of their releases, I hadn’t even heard of this movie, and what I was able to read about made it sound unappealing. But, over time, I developed an appreciation for the various films they had released, and was willing to give it a try. I was worried my initial feelings may have been right when the movie started with Elmer Lincoln Irey’s introduction. I admit, his delivery of his lines almost put me to sleep! But I’m glad I stayed awake, as the rest of the movie proved to work very well! I can still see Wallace Ford’s Schemer dying in the steam room very clearly! And, while it’s a bit part, June Lockhart as the wife of Alfred Ryder’s Tony Genaro really makes you feel for her, as she and her loudmouth friend accidentally tip the criminals off to her husband’s actual identity. You can see her trying to cover up, but her tears almost tell you she knew her husband wouldn’t be surviving. Just a wonderful movie, and one I very much recommend (although I would suggest skipping Irey’s intro so that you can stay awake)!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Classicflix, either as a limited special edition or as part of a triple feature John Alton Collection with Raw Deal and He Walked By Night. The film’s restoration for this release is fantastic, allowing the detail to really shine. Add in the bonus features (only available in the special edition), such as an audio commentary by Alan K. Rode, a few featurettes and a written essay, and this certainly makes for a wonderful release for this movie! The movie itself is one hour, thirty-two minutes in length.

My Rating: 8/10

Audience Rating:

Coming Up Shorts! with… Popeye’s Premiere (1949)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 3 from Warner Archive Collection)

Disclaimer: On the disc case, it is noted that the set is intended for the adult collector, which is because these shorts were made at a time when a lot of racist and sexist stereotypes were prevalent. All I’m trying to say is, parents, be careful about just sticking these on for your kids.

Welcome to my new feature on various theatrical shorts! Sometimes my comments will be on shorts included as extras on a disc set I am reviewing, and other times, they will be completely unrelated to the movie being reviewed (and I will try to indicate which). Hope you enjoy!

(Length: 10 minutes, 47 seconds)

Popeye and Olive are at the premiere of his short “Popeye in Aladdin’s Lamp.” Another short that borrows footage from an earlier short, this time his special “Aladdin And His Wonderful Lamp” from 1939. Some fun to this cartoon, although it’s the old stuff that is a lot more fun. I can definitely see the slight differences in animation between the new and old footage, especially during moments when Popeye is actually interacting with the cartoon, but it’s fun enough (especially since it’s different from the usual “Popeye vs. Bluto” formula that most of the recent cartoons relied on)!

And stay tuned for more of Coming Up Shorts! featuring more of Popeye (and the eventual post on the entire 1940s Volume 3 set), along with other shorts!

TFTMM 2020 & WOIANRA 2018 on… Raw Deal (1948)

And now, we’re up for another noir, the 1948 movie Raw Deal, starring Dennis O’Keefe, Claire Trevor and Marsha Hunt.

Joe Sullivan (Dennis O’Keefe) is in prison, taking the rap for his boss Rick Coyle (Raymond Burr), but he is crying out for freedom. So, Rick arranges things for him to escape. However, Rick is NOT doing this out of the goodness of his heart, as he hopes the police will kill Joe as he tries to escape. Joe’s girlfriend, Pat Regan (Claire Trevor), is waiting outside the prison with the getaway car, and Joe’s escape is more successful than Rick had planned. The police do manage to hit the car with a few bullets, which stops them from getting away cleanly, and they stop at the apartment of Ann Martin (Marsha Hunt), who had been trying to help Joe’s lawyer at the trial. They take her hostage and take off in her car, making their way toward a previously arranged meeting spot with Rick. However, Rick has sent Fantail (John Ireland) in his place to kill Joe. Fantail fails, though, when Ann picks up a gun and shoots him (although he is only wounded). Joe has fallen for Ann (which has made Pat jealous), but he tries to send her back to San Francisco on her own. Fantail finds Ann and brings her to Rick. Rick calls Joe, but only talks to Pat, telling her Joe must come to him or Ann will die. The question is, can Pat tell Joe or will she let Ann die?

Raw Deal was originally made for Eagle-Lion Studios, re-teaming director Anthony Mann with his cinematographer John Alton and star Dennis O’Keefe after the success of the previous year’s T-Men (don’t ask, I haven’t seen it yet, but it’s currently on my short list of movies to watch in the near future, when I can get that far). I can’t deny the success of the director and cinematographer, as it does heighten the effect of the movie. While no doubt the censors were involved in what they could (or could not do), their creativity in working with that makes this movie wonderful. I know the scene where Raymond Burr’s angry Rick Coyle tosses a flaming brandy onto his girlfriend after she accidentally spills her drink on him is made more horrifying mainly because he throws it at the camera. We don’t see the actual “damage,” but our imaginations can certainly run wild with it. The camera angles just do a great job of making his character just that much more threatening. And of course, over it all, we have Claire Trevor’s Pat essentially narrating the story (in a rare instance of a woman doing so for the genre), as we get her viewpoint on the story. Honestly, I have to admit I enjoyed this movie, and it is one that I would quite readily recommend!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Classicflix, either as a limited special edition or as part of a triple feature John Alton Collection with T-Men and He Walked By Night. The last I knew, the special edition, with all its extras, was running low on copies available, so if you want it, be prepared to buy right away, otherwise, the bare-bones triple feature release is still a good way to see it! And with a typically pristine transfer from Classicflix, with only a handful of specks on the image here and there, it’s an easily recommended release!

Film Length: 1 hour, 19 minutes

My Rating: 8/10

Audience Rating:

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Murder, My Sweet (1944) – Claire Trevor – Marjorie Morningstar (1958)

Raymond Burr – Great Day In The Morning (1956)