Tuesday, August 13, 2019


Super Mr. T(ony Mann)


For me the most impressive aspect of Mann's 1947 T-Men is the infiltration conceit, whereby Dennis O'Keefe and Alfred Ryder purport to have run with a since-dismantled outfit in order to gain access to a Los Angeles counterfeiting ring and make a deal involving engraving plates. Both men adopt thug-personae they don't dare to shed even in the face of mortal danger, a willing adoption of Stockholm syndrome that will ultimately blow up in both their bellies.

The film is intercut with creaky old-school "documentary" propaganda warning the audience of the dangers of counterfeiting, more than hinting that the almighty Treasury Department loses no battles. Jammed into one scene, a T-agent rebukes a cashier who's unwittingly received a fake bill: something along the line of, "If only more people took a moment to examine their money..." Sigh.

John Alton's cinematography's all angular ink but registers mostly as atmospherics and the 'labyrinth of moral confusion' trope.


Pieces on Anthony Mann at Cinemasparagus:

T-Men [1947]

Corkscrew Alley / Raw Deal [1948]

Bend of the River [1952]

Thunder Bay [1953]


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