Monday, June 29, 2015


1947, US, directed by Anthony Mann

I don't have near as much time to watch films as I'd like, so brisk films from the high point of the Hollywood era have a great deal of appeal in terms of their running length alone, though directors like Anthony Mann do a lot more than go through the motions. While his strengths are more formal and visual, especially in this period, he's also capable of extracting a solid performance when the material demands it. Dennis O'Keefe, for instance, is a lot more interesting here than in the following year's Raw Deal, playing what is in some senses a dual role as a straight and narrow government agent who goes undercover. As the film progresses, he has to convince both his criminal contacts and the audience that he's a capable and potentially ruthless operator. There's a real tension to the undercover sequences, and a fine appreciation of the personal sacrifices necessary in that line of work. And the photography is just wonderful -- my favourite shot, from a parade of possibilities, looks up at the bottom of a sink as O'Keefe tries to get a key item into his pocket while he's under close watch from his increasingly suspicious confederates.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States