T-MEN. Eagle-Lion Films, 1947. Dennis O’Keefe, Mary Meade, Alfred Ryder, Wallace Ford, June Lockhart, Charles McGraw, Jane Randolph. Narrated by Reed Hadley (uncredited). Director of Photography: John Alton. Directed by Anthony Mann.

   Although the continual narration turns off some viewers, or so I’ve been told, T-Men is one of the better semi-documentary noir films of all time. It’s the US Treasury Department which takes its place in the spotlight, with gang of counterfeiter the target of the agents working there. The story may be a little long in the telling, as the two men working undercover work their way through the world of the underground by starting in Detroit to establish their “credentials” before heading to the West Coast to match their superior plates with the gang’s top-notch paper, imported from China.

   Both Dennis O’Keefe (as one of the agents) and Wallace Ford (an aging hanger-on with the gang) turn in fine performances, but the star of the show is John Alton, as head cinematographer, along with director Anthony Mann. Between them they came up with a film perfectly shot in pristine black-and-white, using lot of unusual angles and closeups that add immensely to the story, not distract from it.

   I do not know why Mary Meade, playing a nightclub photographer received second billing. She was on the screen only for a few minutes total. It’s mostly a men’s affair. On the other hand, June Lockhart makes the most of her very short appearance, while Jane Randolph makes a even greater impression as a villainess close to the top of California gang’s hierarchy.

   If you are a fan of film noir and have not yet seen this, please do. You can thank me later.