Once a month, Ellroy introduces a crime or other flick from his personal canon at the Alamo Drafthouse in Littleton, Colorado. Q&A always follows at the Alamo pub. See the dedicated "In a Lonely Place" page.

Events

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

T-Men (1947)

Once a month, Ellroy introduces a crime or other flick from his personal canon at the Alamo Drafthouse in Littleton, Colorado. Q&A always follows at the Alamo pub.

Released: 1947

Director: Anthony Mann

Starring: Dennis O’Keefe, Alfred Ryder, June Lockhart, Charles McGraw, Mary Meade

Screenplay by: John C. Higgins

Story by: Virginia Kellogg

Cinematography: John Alton

Two U.S. Treasury agents pose as mobsters to bust a counterfeiting ring. The first film to be based on actual Treasury Department Law Enforcement files.

Although his standing never really solidified until several years after his death, Mann was a crackerjack studio craftsman who seemed incapable of taking a misstep when matched with the right genre. His first noir study, T-MEN, is a prime example of what a supremely gifted filmmaker can accomplish on a limited budget.

The story, which is really just an excuse for Mann to tighten the screws on a bunch of characters, features square-jawed Dennis O’Keefe as a treasury agent who’s determined to break up a counterfeiting ring. O’Keefe and his partner (Alfred Ryder), are forced to go undercover to infiltrate the Detroit mob and things get increasingly intense as the story progresses; a couple of murderous set-pieces are as shocking today as they were 50 years ago.

T-MEN, arguably the strongest picture from Mann’s noir period, boasts a raw documentary feel that will remind some viewers of the classic TV series, DRAGNET. But Mann’s brilliant cinematographer, George Alton, gives the film a memorably stark look. Add a first-rate script by John C.Higgins, and Mann’s almost intuitive command of the visual language of cinema, and T-MEN is a surprisingly powerful B-picture, an urban crime drama for the ages. (Paul Tatara, TCM)


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