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Talents of Mann, Alton elevate routine thriller about cracking counterfeiting ring
bmacv21 February 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Whether by fluke or design, joining the talents of director Anthony Mann and cinematographer John Alton resulted in one of the most potent creative teams in movie history – certainly in the film noir cycle whose look and energy they helped forge (Alton's contributions are so innovative and striking that they amount to co-direction). Working for Eagle-Lion Studios on Poverty Row, they took a routine agents-in-peril plot packed with propaganda about Our Tax Dollars At Work in Washington and turned it into a memorable film that's little short of extraordinary -- at least at times.

Treasury agents Dennis O'Keefe and Alfred Ryder get assigned to track down a counterfeiting ring uttering high-quality, almost indetectable paper. They catch the scent, by means of cigars and Chinese herbs, of a portly gentleman in San Francisco. Going into deep cover, they get drawn into an increasingly edgy and violent underworld, putting themselves at considerable risk (in one of the film's most morally freighted moments, one of them doesn't make it out).

Appreciating this film means shutting out the super-patriotic anthem that rings out whenever we catch sight of the Capitol dome and the narrator's portentous drone that accompanies it (actually, more than 50 years later, these laughable gimmicks add a piquant period flavor). Instead, watch for Mann's syncopated pacing, which always catches you off guard, and for Alton's amazing throwaway effects. There are shots in this low-budget exercise so complex and evocative that they're models of the cinematographer's craft (Alton did, after all, write the seminal textbook "Painting With Light"). Shifting double images in the windows of telephone booths and pizza shops create parallel worlds.

The film leaves us with a number of unforgettable set-pieces: Assassin Charles McGraw plying his trade in a Turkish bath, Ryder not being able to acknowledge his new bride for fear of blowing his cover, a murder which one of the agents dares not prevent, or even react to. T-Men looks terrific, keeps us on edge, and deserves its reputation as one of the high-points of the film noir cycle.
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Treasury men
jotix1007 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
When counterfeit currency begin appearing in the L.A. area, the Treasury Dept. comes to investigate. The only way to deal with the problem is to have two agents from different areas of the country infiltrate the ring in order to have the ones responsible captured. Dennis O'Brien and Tony Genaro are the two men tapped for the job.

It takes both men a while in getting to know how the gang operates. Dennis O'Brien gets lucky when he follows the Schemer into a craps game where he passes a counterfeit bill that is soon discovered. O'Brien is the one that is able to penetrate and get to know who are the people involved and is instrumental in solving the mystery.

"T-Men", directed with an amazing style by Anthony Mann is told documentary style, as though what we are watching was an episode, or a re-enactment of the real incident narrated by someone in the Treasury Department. Mr. Mann's direction and his innovative camera placements are about what makes the film watchable. The interesting black and white cinematography by John Alton gives the film a great look that keeps the viewer involved in the story. The background music is by Paul Sawtill and it works good with the action.

Dennis O'Keefe makes a cool Dennis O'Brien, the T-Man that is smart and is able to solve the puzzle at the risk of losing his own life. Alfred Ryder plays Tony Genaro, another T-man whose cover is blown by a friend of his wife. Wallace Ford is perfect as the oily Schemer, a man who loves to gamble and the steam baths. Mary Meade, June Lockhart, Charles McGraw, are seen in supporting roles.

The film clearly points out to the talent of a great film director, Anthony Mann, who created a film with a style and a substance that others imitated, but never succeeded.
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Sizzling Semi-Doc
telegonus11 October 2002
T-Men is yet another collaboration of director Anthony Mann and cinematographer John Alton, a sizzling semi-doc done in the noir manner, it's the usual fed goes undercover story, and yet made with such verve and energy as to jump off the screen. The larger than life film-making, combined with the sober subject matter, almost tip this one into the realm of the surreal, as Mann and Alton were basically too talented for such mundane material, as essentially the script serves their talents, which are considerable, rather than the other way around. Routine as the story is, this is magnificent film-making.
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Counterfeiters, Schemers and Turkish Baths.
hitchcockthelegend24 May 2011
T-Men is directed by Anthony Mann and adapted by John C. Higgins from a suggested story written by Virginia Kellogg. It stars Dennis O'Keefe, Alfred Ryder, Mary Meade, Wallace Ford, June Lockhart, Charles McGraw and Art Smith. Music is by Paul Sawtell and cinematography by John Alton. Plot finds O'Keefe and Ryder as dedicated Treasury agents assigned to go undercover to break up the counterfeiting ring at the center of The Shanghai Paper Case. Posing as low ranked hoodlums left over from a long thought of disbanded gang, the two men find themselves immersed in a dark underworld of violence and deceit. Getting in was easy, coming out alive is a different matter.

The first pairing of director Anthony Mann and master cinematographer John Alton, T-Men is tough semi documentary type film noir that manages to break free of its plot simplicity confines to become a fine movie. Beginning with a foreword delivered by a stoic Treasury official, the film initially feels it's going to be standard gangster/cops fare. But once our two intrepid agents go undercover and we hit the underworld, Mann and Alton shift the tone and the film becomes a different beast. The psychological aspects start to dominate the narrative, as both O'Keefe and Ryder cast aside their humanity to be at one with the grubby world. Under examination is the thin line between the law and the lawless, our two good guys are battling inner conflicts, their natural good instincts, but being bad has come easy. The edges of the frame have become blurred.

The psychological tints would mean nothing without Alton's photography, it's the key element and therefore becomes essential viewing for film noir aficionados. His deep focus chiaroscuro compositions are very striking, and tell us more visually than anything being said vocally. How he frames the heroic agents in the same shadowy light as the bad guys helps keep us the audience in deep with the shift from good world to bad world. This mise-en-scène style has taken over, it's a life force all of its own, and as good as O'Keefe, Ryder and McGraw (always great to see him playing the muscle) are, it's the photography that is the main character here. Mann does his bit, also, sweaty close ups and up-tilt camera work adding to the general disquiet hanging heavy in every room. While his construction of the films most shocking scene, involving a steam bath, is so good its been copied numerous times since.

Not as gritty as Raw Deal, which Mann, Alton and O'Keefe made the following year, but still as tough as old boots and cloaked deliciously with a shadowy beauty. 8/10
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The Work of the Treasury Men
bkoganbing26 February 2006
The oldest federal law enforcement outfit going are the Treasury Men, those intrepid folks who see that no one avoids paying the federal duties on various items or counterfeits our money. That was the subject that Director Anthony Mann decided to tackle in the documentary style made famous over at 20th Century Fox in such films as Boomerang, The Street With No Name, and The House on 92nd Street.

Over at Fox it was done for effect. But as good as T-Men is and it is a crackling good film, let's not forget the reason for John Alton's camera work with lights and shadows is because he and Mann were working on a B picture. These guys got creative because they had to. Later on Anthony Mann in the Fifties got some real good size budgets to work with in those technicolor westerns he did with James Stewart. You'd hardly know it was the same director.

T-Men involves treasury agents Dennis O'Keefe and Alfred Ryder going undercover to get a very slick group of counterfeiters. The murder of an informer brings the Treasury Department to the decision to use undercover men. They meet all kinds of criminal types of both sexes and in good noir style the tension mounts before they too become informed on.

Our good guys blend well into the criminal world in their performances. But the outstanding acting in T-Men is done by hit man Charles McGraw and Wallace Ford who is aptly nicknamed Schemer in this film.

This is definitely a film for fans of the noir genre.
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The Treasure Agents
claudio_carvalho29 July 2018
When the American Treasure Department finds that a gang in Los Angeles is making false currency, agents Dennis O'Brien (Dennis O'Keefe) and Tony Genaro (Alfred Ryder) are assigned to investigate the counterfeit gang using the identities of Vannie Harrigan and Tony Galvani in Detroit. Along their investigation they join the gang of mobsters trying to discover who the boss behind the scheme is.

"T-Men" is a great thriller labelled of film-noir. The documentary style is interesting and there are surprising twists along the story. The performances are great and the direction of Anthony Mann is top notch. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "Moeda Falsa" ("False Coin")
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Hard-boiled film noir classic from Anthony Mann...
FelixtheCat26 May 2000
Director Anthony Mann's hard-boiled, film noir approach coupled with the stylistic cinematography of John Alton make this semi-documentary tale of government treasury agents infiltrating a large counterfeit ring an exciting crime drama. Dennis O'Keefe is great as a hard-nosed agent who slowly earns the trust of the bad guys while his partner, Alfred Ryder, is his equal as the sacrificing newlywed whose duty to his country comes before his duty as a husband. The film offers a fascinating look into the world of undercover work and intrigue and even has an opening segment from the Treasury Office itself.
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Cinematography Is The Star Here
ccthemovieman-124 October 2005
This is one of the better examples of film noir cinematography. Once the introductions are over and the dramatization of the case begins, the film overflows with startling black-and-white contrasts and interesting camera angles. Director Anthony Mann and photographer John Alton were at the top of their game and the DVD transfer enhances their work.

The great camera-work more than makes up for the fact that the story is just so-so, the weakest of the three noirs the two did together on this 3-pack DVD (the others being, He Walked By Night and Raw Deal.) However, it does sport the typically-tough film noir characters and some great suspense over the last 10-15 minutes. What you have to wade through is the boring beginning but staying with it will be rewarding.

I thought the grim story could have used a little warmth, at least some wisecracking with some floozy "dame." But, no molls in this story this is man's gangster film all the way.
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A very good Noir film due to its realism and lack of clichés
MartinHafer13 January 2007
This film is rather reminiscent of the excellent Alan Ladd Noir film, APPOINTMENT WITH DANGER (about a postal inspector infiltrating a murderous gang). In this case, the undercover work is done by two Treasury agents--Dennis O'Keefe and Alfred Ryder. I really liked these two as leads because despite being far from household names, the acting was excellent and believable. Also, true to Noir, they weren't exactly handsome guys--more like a tough average man instead of the usual non-Noir heroes.

O'Keefe and Ryder play undercover agents who are trying to infiltrate a gang of counterfeiters. It's dangerous work and they can't just arrest people because they have no idea who is in charge. Throughout the film, tough bad guys (such as Charles McGraw) and unflinching but realistic violence is present--as well as an excellent level of suspense. Unlike some Noir films, this one pulls no punches nor does it give way to sentimentality. This is a seldom-seen but exceptional film for lovers of the genre.

By the way, I had one minor complain and that was the terrible narration. My score for the film, because of this, is knocked from an 8 to 7. When the film began, a Treasury official gave an introduction that was VERY stilted and he simply couldn't read his lines well. Then, throughout the film, a different narrator spoke on occasion and just wasn't necessary to the film--it was a minor distraction.
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T-Men Make Sure You Infiltrate this Film ***
edwagreen7 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Two treasury agents infiltrate a dangerous gang of counterfeiters in this exciting 1947 film.

The two are able to be accepted by the gangsters due to excellent detective and preparation on their parts.

The heartbreaking scene where one of them was killed was skillfully done. The camera image of Dennis O'Keefe, after his cohort is killed, was memorable. Also memorable was the one scene that June Lockhart appeared in. Realizing that her husband is on assignment and unable to reveal himself, Lockhart plays along. Later, her husband is killed.

Wallace Ford is excellent as a mob stooge.

Another great film noir by director Anthony Mann. It is only at the very end that the head of these people is revealed. We never saw this person throughout the film.
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Brief summary
boris-2616 November 1998
One of the better documentary style noir thrillers that was popular in post World War II Hollywood. Reed Hadley gives a neat deep voiced narration, souding like some sort of law enforcement officer, but it's a bit much at times. Dennis O'Keefe stars as a federal agent disguised as a small time hood. His target- to nab counterfeiters. Anthony Mann keeps the story fascinating, as O'Keefe dives deeper and deeper into the underworld. The real star here is John Alton's superb black and white cinematography, using harsh, minimal light, he creates a world that just peeks out of pools of black.
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Tense crime thriller in gritty noir style...
Doylenf6 June 2006
Some nice shadowy photography by John Alton and a well-paced storyline directed with style by Anthony Mann, makes for a diverting crime melodrama in crisp documentary style that was popular in the early to mid-'40s. Think BOOMERANG, THE HOUSE ON 92nd STREET, 13 ROUE MADELEINE and other Fox melodramas of that era.

But this was done on a poverty row budget by Eagle-Lion with the usually light-weight actor DENNIS O'KEEFE in the sort of role usually handed to someone like Dana Andrews, Mark Stevens, John Hodiak or William Eythe if the film was made at Fox.

He's surprisingly good as a noir hero whose task is to infiltrate a counterfeit gang with another Federal man, posing as would-be counterfeiters, and thus providing a succession of suspenseful moments where our hero is in danger of being exposed as a T-man for the government. Even more effective, in lesser roles, are CHARLES McGRAW and WALLACE FORD. In fact, McGraw would have been an even better choice for the lead than O'Keefe, his tight-lipped bearing and impressive physique suiting him for the role of a dangerous noir hero.

June Lockhart has only a fleeting appearance in one brief scene but others in the cast are properly sinister or authoritative, according to the way the script depicts the supporting characters.

Summing up: Worth a look, but not at the top of the film noir greats due to a script that is only slightly above average.
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The narration holds it back
cutter-128 March 2006
Shot and structured in a quasi-documentary style, this low budget noir from Eagle Lion pictures succeeds more than it fails, but still manages to fall just short. It takes awhile for it to heat up but when it does it shouldn't disappoint fans of hard-boiled and tough talking crime pictures. Much credit must go to Charles McGraw, who elevates the film to a higher level the minute he appears. Everything about this man bespeaks of film noir, and here as the head torpedo he's as nasty as they come.

What shoots this picture in the foot is the jumpy plot structure which is constantly filled in with unneeded voice over. The psychological inner workings and tension fail to ebb and flow every time the narrator fills in the blanks. With a bigger studio throwing more money at it this film might have been one of the A list classics, but made on the cheap as it was it remains just a better than average B movie.
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A deeply flawed movie with some dramatic brilliance, too
secondtake13 December 2010
T-Men (1947)

The official "government" voice of god narration is overwhelming here, and for me it kills the film. The photography is dramatic to the point of desperation--almost to make up for the stiffness of the rest of it, and I'm okay with a dull movie as long as it looks good. It doesn't make this a good movie, however, just one with lots of amazing scenes, well shot.

There is, of course, an important narrative here, as "T-Men" go after bad guys, going undercover and so on. Some of the scenes, as the narrator blabs on, are amazing--really terrific light, all different parts of the city including Chinatown, some steam baths, lots of dark interiors, a boxing ring, etc. There is some good roughing up going on, tough talk back and forth, and a gradually trust/distrust game as the T-Men infiltrate a counterfeiting ring.

The director is the admired Anthony Mann. Mann's noirs and westerns are both laced with a darkness that makes them really good, a cut above most of the others at least in the way he avoids blandness. That's worth a lot. And when this movie really gets going (after about half an hour, when the narrator recedes, though never disappears), it gets better.
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A noir classic
thesmothete6 August 2001
This undercover-secret-service-agents-infiltrate-counterfeiting-ring film is heavily dependent on exceptionally fine noir lighting and camera work under the direction of Albert Mann which help to maintain a high degree of tension, notwithstanding its pseudo-documentary format (complete with voice-over narrator) and somewhat stilted acting. Wallace Ford is positively slimy in the supporting role of Schemer, a hood-fallen-in-influence.
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Dark, Realistic & Visually Stunning
seymourblack-17 August 2011
Warning: Spoilers
This dark thriller is a powerful documentary-style drama which is justifiably recognised as a film noir classic. Its combination of gritty realism, an intriguing story and plenty of suspense, makes it utterly compelling to watch and its striking visual style is simply awesome.

Dennis O'Brien (Dennis O'Keefe) and Tony Genaro (Alfred Ryder) are U.S. Treasury agents (T-Men) who are assigned to a case which involves them in going undercover to infiltrate a gang of counterfeiters. Working under assumed names, they go to Detroit and pose as the only surviving members of a well known gang and are accepted by local mob boss Carlo Vantucci (Anton Costa) who employs them to work on his counterfeit liquor stamps racket.

It soon becomes apparent that a man called "The Schemer" (Wallace Ford) is the gang's L.A. connection and O'Brien immediately leaves for L.A. to follow up this lead. His subsequent contact with "The Schemer" helps him to meet people at progressively higher positions in the organisation as he tries to find out the identity of the man in charge.

After Genaro has joined O'Brien in L.A. the boss of the gang arrives by ship from China and O'Brien meets Diana Simpson (Jane Randolph) who is second in command of the organisation. She distrusts "The Schemer" and ruthlessly arranges to have him killed. "The Schemer", however, had kept a written record of the gang's activities and the discovery of his notebook eventually enables the Treasury Department to ascertain all the knowledge they require to bring the gang's work to an end.

The story is based on records of actual Treasury Deapartment investigations and its authenticity is emphasised by the movie's very formal introduction which is spoken by a Treasury official. The two agents are incredibly dedicated and endure tremendous hardships as they pursue their investigation. They suffer great physical violence, the constant fear of being exposed as T-Men and both find themselves in situations where they have to severely repress their natural feelings and reactions to events because to do otherwise would blow their cover. These men fit into their criminal roles with a level of ease and enthusiasm which suggests that their aptitude for the work might well be rooted in some darker recesses of their psychological make up than even they are able to recognise.

The skillful work of director Anthony Mann and cinematographer John Alton is exemplary. The camera-work is incredibly inventive with some great low angle shots which work really well, including one in which the audience see the action from floor level whilst looking up through a table lamp. The use of close ups contributes to the tension generated in some scenes and creative use of steam, smoke and chiaroscuro lighting reinforce the overall atmosphere of the piece.

"T-Men" is an exciting and sometimes violent film with particularly good performances from the actors in the lead roles and some rather tense sequences in which O'Brien and Genaro find themselves in very dangerous predicaments.
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Film Noire at It's Best!
bsmith555213 August 2019
Warning: Spoilers
With the release of "T-Men", Hollywood began to notice the considerable talents of Director Anthony Mann. The dark foreboding black & white photography created an atmosphere of intrigue and danger. The film shot in a semi-documentary style and is expertly narrated by actor Reed Hadley

Two federal Treasury Agents (T-Men), Dennis O'Brien (Dennis O'Keefe) and Tony Genero (Alfred Ryder) are assigned by Chief Carson (Herbert Hayes) to infiltrate a gang of counterfeiters and bring them to justice. The pair transform themselves into gangsters with O'Brien becoming Vannie Harrigan and Genero, Tony Galvani. They go to Detroit where they gain the confidence of local mobsters. They learn the name of "The Schemer" who might be a link to the counterfeiting operation.

"Harrigan" flies to Los Angeles and locates "The Schemer" (Wallace Ford), follows him and makes contact after passing a phony bill to a nightclub photographer (Mary Mead) who advises "The Schemer".. The Schemer brings "Harrigan" to higher ups. They question his commitment and ask to examine the printer's plates (supplied by Treasury). He ultimately meets Diana Simpson (Jane Randolph) the cold as ice 2nd in command.

She sees "The Schemer" as a weak link and orders him killed by hit man Moxie (Charles McGraw). He does the deed by killing the hapless Schemer in a Turkish Steam Bath. Meanwhile, "Galvani" accidently runs into his wife Mary (June Lockhart) and tries to ignore her. This, however arouses suspicion since "Galvani" was supposed to be not married. Moxie shoots him down in front of "Harrigan" who is helpless to intervene.

Warned by HQ to grab the plates and run, "Harrigan" is forced into a meeting with the boss (whom we never actually meet). Paul Miller (William Malten) is called in to authenticate the plates that "Harrigan" has. However, Miller backs up "Harrigan's" claim to gain favor with the Treasury but is shot down by Moxie and..............................................................................................

Classic Film Noire!
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One of my favorite films!
JohnHowardReid15 February 2018
Warning: Spoilers
T-Men is a wonderful film. Although Mann utilises many of the semi-documentary school's technical contrivances (the opening legend, authentic backgrounds, off-screen narration, tight editing) and much of its philosophic outlook (rugged hero, tight-lipped, unexpressive; refined villain, his voice carefully shaded to suggest every nuance of depraved elegance), he has yet managed to inject the film with a distinctly personal style.

Our first indication that the picture is being directed by an unusually imaginative artist with both an expressive visual flair and the editing know-how to sustain it, comes in the restaurant scene where "The Schemer" makes contact with a photographer's girl. Instead of the usual flat establishing long shot with the hero walking up to the entrance, cut to the interior and pan, Anthony Mann has treated the sequence almost surrealistically; - with an opening shot of the restaurant's neon sign, rapid cut to its swinging door as O'Keefe strides through, tracking shot following the investigator into the interior - a confused medley of sight, sound and voices, - rapid pan as O'Keefe jostles his way to a telephone booth, closing the glass door so that a reflection of the whole dizzying scene swings into focus. Obviously, neither Hathaway, Keighley, nor any other of the semi-documentarists would have handled the scene this way, although heretofore it appeared that Mann was directing the film along established lines - or so it seemed at the time.

On a recent re-viewing of the film, however, I found that even in earlier scenes, Mann had been more daring than Hathaway in his choice of low angles, longer takes (the first interview with the unctuous gang-leader, - beautifully composed and photographed), and the remarkable no-dialogue sequence where a tip-off is passed to a crooked detective in the locker-room of a Turkish bath; - an intensified use of natural sound taking the place of both dialogue and music. (As is usual in this type of film, the composer - here, Paul Sawtell - is relegated to providing a few bars for the brass section to play under the credits). There follows a wonderful montage of low-angled long shots as Treasury agents try to trace "The Schemer" through his known addiction to Oriental herbs.
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Mann does not succumb to clichés or anything fake
tmwest30 May 2010
Warning: Spoilers
If anyone has doubts about the enormous talent of Anthony Mann, see this film. Made with a tiny budget and also to praise the Treasury Department this film grabs you from beginning to end. One of the greatest virtues of Mann is not to succumb to clichés or anything that might seem fake. The plot is about two men from the Treasury who go after a gang which is making false bills. In order to infiltrate the gang they must pass as men with dirty pasts. To keep their fake identity they pass through painful ordeals, like watching one of their own being killed, and not react, or meet his wife and act like he does not know her. There is plenty of suspense in the film keeping you always on the edge.
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It's Time for T
robert-temple-131 October 2008
Anthony Mann here delivers another one of his superior noir films. The much-underrated leading man Dennis O'Keefe is terrific here. He is like a taller and tougher Alan Ladd, without the smile. This film is one of the 'investigation procedural' films of the period, complete with patronising narrator who explains to us what people we are watching are doing. 'T-Men' seems a corny title, but it is not about cartoon characters, 'T' stands for Treasury, and this is a tale of United States Treasury secret service agents infiltrating and busting a massive counterfeit ring in California. There are some crisp lines, and some lateral thinking in the story: 'If we are investigating Los Angeles, we will start in Detroit to avoid suspicion'. The story is based on real Treasury cases, and was made with the Treasury's full cooperation. We certainly learn a lot about paper quality (percentage of cotton, percentage of linen), engraved plates, photo processes, and we are almost ready to start our own presses tomorrow, except of course that crime does not pay, at least when Dennis O'Keefe is around. The next year, Anthony Mann would make 'Raw Deal', so he kept getting better. There was always plenty of tension with that Mann on the job.
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paper + plates
RanchoTuVu22 May 2007
Get by the introductory speech and T-Men picks up steam (literally) going from a Detroit mob to a San Francisco counterfeiting ring. Two treasury agents go undercover and find out all that they need to know, but also find it difficult to stay alive. Tailing one suspect into Chinese herb shops and steam rooms, and then into a restaurant with a South Pacific motif, which is the locale for one of the great scenes in the film, trading samples of counterfeit cash that are folded like airplanes, reaching an agreement about paper and plates (one side has one, the other side has the other), all the little details that could have been a bore aren't because the viewer is constantly drawn in by the quality of the pacing, stellar cinematography, the characters ,and the locations.
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10/10 for directorial style, performances, 5/10 for narration
Quinoa198430 March 2008
T-Men might be one of the great film-noirs of the period- certainly a high point for Anthony Mann who already has Raw Deal as one of the masterpieces of the period- if only for one fatal flaw: the narration. While it would probably work well enough in a pulp magazine or wherever a story like this would turn up in print (it seems just about made for it, though despite the presence of the "real" treasury department officials it's fictional), the narrator, who comes off like an even more dead-pan version (and of course less subtly satirical) of the VO in the Killing, disrupts the flow of the story where it could be just excellent without it. Little things pop up that could be filmed just was well, finding out the clues and the details and not overrun with the ham-fisted voice of authority. If it was even done in shorter bits interspersed, fine. But as it is, it's the only big letdown of the movie, making it dated (at least more than usual).

And yet, this doesn't detract from what should be a must-see for those who want to immerse themselves in a creative visual style. The team-up of Mann and his DP John Alcott was a match made in shadow-heaven, and their collaboration brings out such a strong style that it's hard to look away. This, plus the performances from Dennis O'Keefe, Wallace Ford, Charles McGrayw, make it a firecracker of a thriller, involving a story of two federal treasury agents out for a big sting with a nest of counterfeiters in Los Angeles and Detroit. When Man directs certain scenes, they pop like you want one of these 'old-school' hard boiled flicks to go. The violence actually isn't very cheap either, at least for the period, and it's a big bang where another director might've gone for the limp whimper. The villains are tough, but like any good soldier undercover the hand is always a little slicker, one step ahead. When it's at its best, T-Men is like the super-cool grandfather to the likes of the Departed.

If only for the preachiness, and that stupid voice (who, apparently for good reason, is uncredited), I'd recommend it as whole-heartedly as Raw Deal. As it stands, it's still very good, with the kinds of double-crosses and moments of tension (i.e. the lead-up to the Schemer's demise) that rank with the finest the genre has. Bottom line, you're bound to find one or two of the compositions in T-Men right smack-dab in the examples of textbook film-noir lighting and design: maximum impact of B-movie reaching art. 8.5/10
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Film-Noir Headliner from Anthony Mann and John Alton
LeonLouisRicci13 October 2014
Iconic Film-Noir from Director Anthony Mann with Incredible Impressionistic Cinematography from John Alton. At the Beginning of the Post-War entries in the Genre it set a Stylized Template that would be Imitated for Years.

Not Enough can be said about the Alton Look of the Film. Silhouetted Darkness in front of Glaring Light gives the Impression of Another World Separated from but Linked to Reality in a Disturbing Dimension of a World Out of Sync. A Place of an Underworld that Preys Upon the Innocent.

Included in this Ground-Breaker of a Movie are Dennis O'Keefe Dragging on a Cigarette throughout as a Tough as Nails Treasury Agent, Charles MaGraw as a Sweaty, Immoral Thug, and Wallace Ford as the "Schemer" a Pulp Name if there ever was one.

Also, Not to be Denied and making an Impression as an Italian American is Alfred Ryder, very Convincing as an Every-Man doing His Bit for His Country.

This is one of those that all Film-Noir are Compared. It is Definitive and Dramatic with some Hard Bitten Violence and Hard-Boiled Dialog. The Setting of the City is Unmistakably Noir and the Atmosphere is Chilling and Disturbing.

The Opening where, in the Post-War World is another of those Contemporary Boasting that the Government, along with Dedicated Agents and the Latest Technology is a Force that is Leading the World Toward Democracy and Decency is a Flawed Pretension that is the Movie's Greatest Weakness. A Dated Technique that is a Bit Much for Modern Audiences.

That this Jingoism can be Ignored and listed as Inconsequential in the end is a Testament to the Raw Power of the Film, which is so Substantial as to make the Lesser Parts Rendered Remote and can be Forgiven.

This is Simply One of the Best of the Genre and Images from the Great John Alton Frame are Used Frequently to Illustrate the Look of Film-Noir.
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Routine for the period, great by today's standards
bob_gilmore117 November 2006
Oh, what it would be like to live during a time when everyone was on the same side? When you watch films like T-Men, The Street With No Name and The House On 92nd Street you get the idea that back in the 40's all of America was like a monolithic entity that had the good guys and then, way outside of normal, were the bad guys. The matter of fact voice-over that sets this taut crime thriller up broadly paints the world in very distinct blacks and whites. At once we have sympathy for these "T-Men (Treasury Men) that risk life and limb to stop counterfeiters. Just imagine a film made today had the villains not responsible for nuclear terrorism, child pornography or "dirty" bombs but rather printing funny money. It sort of gives you an idea of where our society has gone.

Despite some predictable plotting T-Men is a very suspenseful film that manages to ratch up the tension as it goes and the cast of b string players are uniformly great to watch and listen to. At first I feared that the DVD would be spotty, but the restoration was completed by some division of Sony as opposed to some quickie praying on films whose copy-write had lapsed into the public domain. Yeah, it might have been better with Dana Andrews and Richard Widmark, but these players acquit themselves just fine and the John Alton camera work is often amazing the peak of which is a low angle shot of the two leads standing next to a sink. If you are not simply doing a side by side based on casting famous players, this films stands up to anything being made in the genre at that time and very few of the films released in multiplexes today can match it for straight ahead suspense.
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Glorifies T-men; narration is too much
ensiform7 June 1999
An average noir film is made horrible through the use of narration that assumes the audience is stupid as a rock. Every single action the agents make, for the first half of the film, is narrated, explained, praised, and explained again for good measure. I mean they really, really hit you over the head with it. The agents don't just gather facts, the gather "facts to be used." They don't only take notes, they "memorize those notes." And on and on. This isn't radio: we can _see_ the agents going over the material! The jingoistic, condescending tone of the narration ruins what would otherwise be a fairly thrilling crime picture, with superb black and white filming and some graphic, spine-tingling scenes of violence.
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