Before Anthony Mann solidified his reputation with his edgy Westerns starring Jimmy Stewart such as The Naked Spur, he toiled in Hollywood's "Poverty Row," transforming a handful of low-budget crime thrillers into stylish,... more » violent film noir classics with a mix of grace and grit. Three of his best, all photographed by the brilliant John Alton, have been collected in The Roan's Group's The Film Noir of Anthony Mann triple feature. T-Men stars square-jawed Dennis O'Keefe, a former leading man turned beefy B-movie tough guy, and Alfred Ryder as pair of undercover Treasury agents who enter the shadow world of America's mob underworld when their predecessor is killed. Posing as street thugs, they infiltrate their way into a gang of counterfeiters, living the dangerous life of the gangster to the hilt while living in constant danger of death if their covers are blown. Mann and Alton mix documentary-style realism with stark sets lit in jagged, claustrophobic shadows and abstract haziness, creating an eerie emptiness. Raw Deal reunites Mann, Alton, and O'Keefe in a haunting revenge noir about an escaped criminal, his loyal girlfriend (Claire Trevor), and a lovely legal aide (Marsha Hunt) he drags along as a hostage. Trevor's cold, deliberate narration and the moody, fog-bound visuals stand in counterpoint to the brutal explosions of violence (the most memorable belonging to sadistic gangster Raymond Burr, who tosses a tureen of flaming cherries jubilee on a clumsy party girl in a scene that anticipates The Big Heat), adding a tough edge to the doomed romanticism. Mann never took screen credit for He Walked by Night, though he directed a good portion of the documentary-influenced thriller. Richard Basehart stars as an electronics genius who turns to theft and murder, while tough-guy cop Scott Brady tracks him down with the resources of the police department, notably a wisecracking forensics expert played by Jack Webb. The stiff, stentorian narration and procedural detail of this film were big influences on Webb when he developed Dragnet. These films are all firmly in the B tradition: stilted, often hackneyed dialogue, abstract sets, and more than a few lesser performances can be found throughout, but Mann's spare style and hard edge and Alton's stunning visuals lift the films out of the poverty-row ghetto and into film noir history. --Sean Axmaker« less
"It was a great idea from the Roan Group to present three movies directed by Anthony Mann in the late forties. Unfortunately, their copies have seen better days ! Too bad.So, the sound and the images of HE WALKED BY NIGHT are simply awful. There's a slight improvement for RAW DEAL and only T-MEN could be qualified as visible for the average DVD addict.But, as always, if the movie is interesting, I try to forget the imperfections and concentrate myself on the movie. And, believe me, these three are good movies. I personally have a little preference for RAW DEAL with its typical Film Noir mood : a hero, played by Dennis O'Keefe, two girls - the blonde and the brunette - and a sadistic villain impersonated by Raymond Burr. HE WALKED BY NIGHT and T-MEN are typical examples of the semi-documentary style used in a lot film noir of the 1945-1950 period. They present a case which, if you want to believe the narrator, was a real story. Well, well, well. Naturally, it's one of the numerous clichés used by Hollywood in order to nail the viewer.Director Anthony Mann is known for his westerns of the 50's starring James Stewart ; he deserves also to be recognized as a Master of the Film Noir genre. No menu... and hardly a scene access. A DVD for your library."
Cheesey plots, but great cinematography and lighting - fun!
Lance Hayes (email@example.com) | Wichita, Kansas | 07/23/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is so representative of the B-movies of the '40's and early '50's! BUT - Director, Anthony Mann and Cinematographer, John Alton decided to be artistic, despite the low budgets and moderately corny scripts. I wonder if the studio heads even knew what was going on? Anyway, Mann and Alton weren't the only ones to explore Film Noir (see Orson Welles' "Lady from Shang Hai," for example, or "The Third Man"), but if you haven't seen these three films like I hadn't, since I was a kid, you should take advantage of the availability. Two of them were released on Laserdisc, awhile back, but were pricey. This is reasonable, there are 3 movies, and the film prints and DVD transfers look great, too!"
Excellent presentation, but a few flaws
wdanthemanw | 02/09/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Few american directors can claim as large a volume of quality work as Anthony Mann. This dvd has two of his best and one of his lesser film noirs. T-MEN and RAW DEAL are worth buying these disks for on their own, HE WALKED BY NIGHT, while a good film doesn't come close to the other two in terms of Mann's spatial awareness and Alton's expressionist camera work. I can't help feeling that one of Mann's other great film noirs like THE TALL TARGET, RAIROADED, BORDER INCIDENT or STRANGE IMPERSONATION would have been more appropriate (but then again the films on this dvd also showcase the talents of John Alton while some of those other films don't). The reviewer below is right to say that the sound on these films is substandard (T-MEN is alright but the other two are unsatisfactory) but the dialogue is still audible and the quality of the transfer, especially in the case of RAW DEAL, is amazingly clear. Finally, that these three films should be available at this price means that these disks are a must-buy. I hope that the Roan Group releases a second collection of Anthony Mann film noirs, including the films listed above, as this is my favourite dvd in my limited collection."
Noir at its best
firstname.lastname@example.org | Essex, UK | 04/30/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I had been trying to obtain a copy of this dvd for some time and was delighted to finally purchase it via amazon. It is a beautifully presented dvd with three superb examples of what makes film noir (a movement, not a genre!). Aldrich's direction is as tight and claustrophobic as you would expect and the cinematography of John Alton can be seen to define all the charactersitics associated with noir. Long may films such as these be available on dvd."
Poor sound quality
H. Rogers | United States | 02/01/2000
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Three entertaining movies but the sound quality is so poor that it greatly detracts from the experience."