I decided to move the marathon back here since most of these films only MartinTeller has seen, and this post is kind of aimed directly at him anyways.Raw Deal
Both: * 1/2
Mrs. 1SO and I were all set to love Anthony Mann's noir, and I still don't have nearly enough information to say what went wrong. The first film is 79 minutes and every time it looks like a conversation is being dropped in just to pad things out, there's a new wrinkle to keep the characters moving. So I had to ask myself why in the end, the film felt slow and uninvolving? Well, I don't like Dennis O'Keefe. He's not wrong for the genre like Dick Powell, but he doesn't know how to hold the screen. His acting is thoroughly uninteresting. The script is another problem, some of the tough noir dialogue sounds very forced. Fake. ("Keep your eve on Miss Law & Order here. She might go soprano on us.")
In the end I realized there's a great idea here with the two women. The film switches the innocent and the femme fatale, and it's done so subtly I didn't even notice it till the last 5 minutes. There are a few good scenes and a handful of good shots. Unfortunately my DVD transfer on both films was not the best. A lot of it was too dark, so I'm disappointed that I didn't get to see John Alton's lighting under better conditions.
The scenes with Raymond Burr were laughably bad. He's filmed from low angles, making him look like Herman Munster. He acts like Brad Garrett when he tries to be menacing, and there's a scene where he throws a flaming desert into a woman's face
that includes a shot where he hurls the pot at the camera. I've seen shots like this before... on Mystery Science Theater 3000.
So then there's T-Men. We watched it a few hours later, hoping to give Mann a fresh start. It's a completely different type of noir. Dragnet style with 3rd person narration. The set-up is decent enough and I liked watching how the guys first get accepted into the gang. Then the tedium sets in. John C. Higgins is a writer on this one too, and that damned Dennis O'Keefe again. It was about as exciting as an autopsy. Mrs. 1SO left about halfway through. I slogged on, but you know when you reach a point where practically nothing will make the effort worthwhile?
Anthony Mann westerns give me a special thrill. I'd probably put him 3rd in that genre, behind Leone and Ford and just ahead of Eastwood. As for his noirs, sorry Martin but you can keep them. I'm dropping Side Street from the marathon.