23 janvier 1948. Le Passant Cinéphile se demande depuis toujours comment travaillent les agents du Trésor américain. Peut-être que le nouveau film d’Anthony Mann, T-Men, répondra à ses questions. C’est en tout cas ce que semble penser Bosley Crowther. Direction le Criterion qui le donne aujourd’hui.
Critique d’époque :
« There are surely easier ways of making a living than by being a Treasury Department T-man – assuming, that is, that the business is as rough as it looks on Loew’s Criterion screen. And there are also quicker ways of being wearied than by sitting through Edward Small’s T-Men. For, according to this tough-guy thriller, which slammed into that theatre yesterday, these law enforcement agents for the Treasury really lead deteriorating lives, full of peril from violent mobsters and grief from their own likely slips. And, for those of a slightly sensitive nature, the appearance of this danger on the screen is likely to stir anxieties to an almost unendurable point.
Hand it to Mr. Small’s craftsmen : they have turned out a cops-and-robbers film in this new « semi-documentary » format which, for action, is one of the best. Presented as a fictional recreation of a typical Treasury Department case and introduced by Elmer L. Irey, former head of its law enforcement agencies, it tells how a couple of T-men, disguising themselves as thugs, perilously worm their way into and expose a huge counterfeit ring. And it also gives some indication of scientific crime-detection tricks employed.
Made in part on locations in Detroit and Los Angeles, it does have a look of reality not often encountered in such films. And it’s played by a cast of actors who handle themselves credibly. Except for a few familiar figures – Dennis O’Keefe as the key T-man, Wally Ford as an underworld schemer and Art Smith as a Treasury Department chief – most of the performers have faces which are fresh and convincingly right. Alfred Ryder as a finally murdered T-man and John Wengraf as an urbane crook are best.
And Anthony Mann has directed the action, of which there is more than enough, with a fine sense of melodramatic timing and a good eye for sharp, severe effects.
But, of course, it must be acknowledged that the pattern is fairly well worn and that there isn’t a great deal of difference between a T-man and a G-man – on the screen. Furthermore, an inquisitive Y-man [which is what this reviewer is] might question some of the action and devices as plausible. Also – and this is the main point – if T-men do actually take such picturesque physical beatings as Mr. O’Keefe takes here, we wonder that any bright fellows could possibly be recruited for the jobs« . Par Bosley Crowther pour le New York Times.
Bosley Crowther a aimé T-Men et il le fait savoir. Une intrigue menée tambour battant et accrocheuse grâce à son aspect documentaire. Même si le sujet sent quelque peu le réchauffé. Crowther loue également la qualité de l’interprétation. Tout cela est-il honnête ? S’agit-il d’une vraie critique ou de la reconnaissance pour un homme et son travail mettant en avant les efforts des autorités pour combattre le crime ? Quelques critiques de sieur Crowther mettant en exergue le manque de morale de certains films, nous sommes en droit de nous poser ces questions…
Ma critique toute personnelle de T-Men (La Brigade du Suicide) est disponible ici.