Anthony Mann's Noir Colors — A look at the director's 'T-Men,' 'He Walked By Night,' and 'Raw Deal'
Anthony Mann’s Noir Colors
Although he made his name as an auteur of edgy westerns (Winchester ’73), Anthony Mann cut his directorial teeth on taut, terse crime films — three of which have just been released on video by Kino. It’s a good excuse to pair up T-Men and He Walked By Night for a perfect video double bill. Documentary-style police procedurals that vividly break with genre conventions, T-Men‘s centerpiece is a searing steam-room rubout, while the climax of He Walked by Night (codirected by Alfred L. Werker) is even more memorable — a chase through L.A.’s cavernous storm sewers.
As engrossing as these potboilers are, they seem like mere warm-ups for Raw Deal, a gem unearthed on video for the first time. The story’s deceptively familiar: A framed convict (Dennis O’Keefe) breaks out of prison and makes a run for it, taking along his loyal girlfriend (Claire Trevor) and a hostage (Marsha Hunt). But as an ill-fated romantic triangle takes shape, the conflicting emotions bring unexpected depth to stock character types. Add Raymond Burr as a sadistic villain, and a tour de force showdown that begins in a fog-enshrouded alley and ends in a burning hotel suite, and you’ve set the scene for a classic film noir fade-out. Quentin Tarantino, eat your heart out. This is truly great pulp fiction. T-Men: B+ He Walked by Night: B+ Raw Deal: A