as much as i love anthony mann and would like to heap praise on him at every turn, i think that john alton’s cinematography should get a good deal of this film’s credit. it’s a particularly stylish noir in the tradition of kansas city confidential and he walked by night (co-directed by anthony mann). all three of these films begin with a narrator introducing the film as a piece of fictionalized reality, a form made popular by dragnet. it’s interesting to note that though these films are representations of actual cases (or a composite thereof), they are still very stylish – they use exaggerated shadows, overly drawn characters and generally blow the story up for the sake of cinema. consequently they shouldn’t be called realistic films, though they are a striking comparison to some of the glossy studio pictures of the time.
this film follows dennis o’keefe, who plays a treasury agent, as he infiltrates the underground in an attempt to uncover a massive counterfeiting operation. i’ve never seen o’keefe in anything before, but i liked him here. he reminded me a bit of a sterling hayden type figure. tall and tough looking, but still sympathetic and intelligent; not just a muscle man. overall an engaging and well-styled noir from one of the best directors of the time.