Tuesday, January 26, 2010

T-MEN (1947)

People often never ask me "What film would be a good starting point if I wanted to learn about film noir?", but if they did ask me one of the films at the top of my list would be T-MEN. A lot of noirs have all kinds of crazy twists and double-crosses and triple-crosses and it's sometime hard to follow, but T-MEN is very straightforward and enjoyable, not to mention the amazing cinematography by John (RAW DEAL, THE BIG COMBO) Alton who had one of the best quotes ever by a cinematographer: "It's not what you light - it's what you don't light."

Anyway, the story is told in a semi-documentary style complete with a narrator. There's a counterfeiting gang run out of Los Angeles that the Treasury Department has been after for awhile, but the only lead they have is there's a connection with another gang in Detroit, so they send two T-men undercover to infiltrate the gang and see what they can find out. That's all you really need to know. I've seen the film a number of times and still I get really into the story, especially the first half where they are working their way into the gang's confidence.

The direction by Anthony Mann is great as is the acting by everybody involved. The main T-man is played by Dennis O'Keefe who's definitely not a household name, but I've always found his career to be fascinating. As far as I can tell there's never been a book written about him, but I've noticed him quite playing a bit parts in various movies, so I found out who he was, looked him up and he's (according to IMDb) been in over 253 movies and TV shows!!! Usually just as a bit part or an extra but still he's been in a ton of films including DUCK SOUP, I AM A FUGITIVE FROM A CHAIN GANG, SCARFACE, LIBELED LADY and even his own TV show that only last 18 episodes! Anyway I just thought that was interesting, because nowadays only the biggest of movie nerds would even know who he was.

Back to T-MEN, one of my favorite scenes has this one guy talking shit right before they kill him, they shoot him and as he's falling down he gasps, full of venom, "You...sucker!" What a badass! LOL. Great movie and worthy of earning a spot in your movie collection.

Another plus for T-MEN is Jack Overman actually gets some respectable screen time. Good for him!
You can see the reflection of the person he's watching.

Monday, January 25, 2010


It says Takashi Miike on the credits but you wouldn't know it just from watching it...all three fucking hours of it!!!! The story idea is pretty exciting: some teenage girls find out that a local modeling agency is run by vampires...vampires that only feed on the blood of virgins! That plus Takashi Miike should equal awesome, but it isn't. It's pretty much terrible. First off, it's a TV movie(!) and secondly, there's giant chunks of time wasted on these girls just babbling on about God only knows what. It was torture.

There's no violence, the special effects are painfully horrible, zero tits, very little cussing and the performances by the actors are all shitty. The only saving grace of the entire disaster is there's numerous scenes shot out on busy city sidewalks and you can see pedestrians staring at the camera and just acting confused. I found that kinda funny, but not funny enough to enjoy this turd. Skip it. I would say for hardcore Miike fans only, but I am a hardcore Miike fan and I found this entire movie to be rubbish. Skip it.
Crew visible in reflection.


I have a theory that every movie where Millard Mitchell has a substantial role is going to be an excellent film. So far my theory has held up - SINGIN' IN THE RAIN, THIEVES' HIGHWAY, WINCHESTER '73 - and now THE NAKED SPUR.

Jimmy Stewart is on the trail of a killer (Robert Ryan). He's tracked him to Colorado and with the help of two strangers (Ralph Meeker and Millard Mitchell) he captures the killer and his girlfriend (Janet Leigh). The killer quickly figures out that Stewart didn't tell the others about the $5,000 reward so he spills the beans in order to create a rift between his captors. The two want their part of the reward, so now these three armed men, one vicious killer and one confused female set off from the Rocky Mountains to Kansas.

The direction by Anthony Mann is great and the cinematography by William C. Mellor (A PLACE IN THE SUN, GIANT) is beautiful. Nothing life changing, but still a highly entertaining Western.  Double-feature with ALONG THE GREAT DIVIDE.

Mann - Stewart westerns: