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T-Men has undergone a major restoration and is loaded with bonus features in this special edition Blu-ray.
When the trail goes cold on a counterfeit ring in Los Angeles, Treasury agents Dennis O'Brien (Dennis O'Keefe) and Tony Genaro (Alfred Ryder) are called upon to infiltrate the shadowy and dangerous underworld of organized crime. Their only lead takes them to Detroit where they convince mob kingpin Carlo Vantucci of their criminal pedigree and start piling up clues to tie the Vantucci mob to the "tough, tight outfit" in L.A.
O'Brien and Genaro finally get a break when they learn a former Detroit hood - The Schemer (Wallace Ford) - is on the outs with the syndicate and has been demoted to pushing the fake paper in Los Angeles. Not wasting a second, O'Brien heads to L.A. and tracks down his cigar-smoking target, quickly duping the counterfeiter into being introduced to the "higher-ups". But the deeper O'Brien penetrates the organization, the more harrowing the mission becomes for him and fellow T-Man Genaro, with their every move being scrutinized and carrying the risk of deadly exposure.
A major box office success upon its release, T-Men holds a special place in film noir canon not only as director Anthony Mann's breakout film, but as the initial pairing of the filmmaker and cinematographer John Alton. Like none before them, their combination of highly stylized camera set-ups, along with the brilliant uses of light and shadows, created the gritty realism and visual tension that made their crime thrillers popular with critics and movie patrons alike.
With a story by Virginia Kellogg (White Heat) and a screenplay by John C. Higgins (Raw Deal), T-Men also features Charles McGraw, Jane Randolph and, in a brief but key scene, June Lockhart.
- Audio Commentary by biographer and producer Alan K. Rode
- Into the Darkness: Mann, Alton and T-Men - Featurette with cinematographer Richard Crudo, film critic and author Todd McCarthy, writer and film historian Julie Kirgo, film historian and director Courtney Joyner and biographer and producer Alan K. Rode
- A Director's Daughter: Nina Mann Remembers - An Interview with Nina Mann
- Plus: A 24 page booklet with an essay by author Max Alvarez (The Crime Films of Anthony Mann) featuring stills, posters and other production material
- The mono soundtrack has been restored is uncompressed on this release (Blu-ray only)
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For this genre, one of the finest directors was Anthony Mann, and one of the most interesting actors was Dennis O'Keefe. Their pairing in T-MEN and RAW DEAL delivers two of the best examples of Film Noir, though not nearly as well known as films like The Big Sleep and Double Indemnity. Mann was a top-notch director who went on to direct Jimmy Stewart in such westerns as Winchester '73, Bend of the River, The Far Country, and The Man From Laramie; as well as sand and sandal epics, like El Cid and Fall of the Roman Empire.
O'Keefe was a top-notch actor who did a decade of extra work at the beginning of the sound era, before he was discovered and recommended as a leading man by Clark Gable. After that he starred in a variety of comedies and dramas in the 40's and 50's. He also worked for the fledgling medium of television, making guest appearances on such shows as Robert Montgomery Presents, Studio One, and Lux Video Theatre; as well as starring in his own TV show in 1959. He's a very likable actor, even when he plays a convict.
In T-MEN, O'Keefe and a fellow treasury detective go undercover and risk their lives to break up a counterfeiting ring. In RAW DEAL, O'Keefe plays a wrongly convicted felon who escapes from prison looking for revenge, kidnaps his lawyer's secretary who has been visiting him in prison, and is ultimately redeemed by her from his course of self-destruction. There is actually a double-redemption in RAW DEAL that gives it a nice twist.
About the cinematography: John Alton gives a visual look to these two films that can only be described as powerful. In RAW DEAL, the scene on the boat with the clock in the background will never be forgotten by anyone who has seen it. The scenes in the steam baths in T-MEN, and the fight scene in the backroom of the beachside shop in RAW DEAL are also memorable.
The movie is directed by Anthony Mann who knows how to direct good film noir. The print quality and sound are both quite good. There is plenty of stark lighting and off-kilter camera angles like I expect in film noir movies. The bad guys are tough and the action is gripping ! I give this one an A- or at least a B+ !Gangsters Guns & Floozies Crime Collection: T-Men
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