“At last they were ready. They met on Belle Isle to quiz each other for the most important examination of their lives. They had to know all the answers. Failure to do so would mean a bad grade later on in the shape of a bullet or an ice pick.”
A convoluted tale of two undercover Treasury agents, this 1947 Noir starts as it means to go on as shady types emerge out of tenebristic darkness, only for one of them to be gunned down at first sight. These are mean streets, indeed.
Heavy on the expositional voiceover, this crime thriller is full of terrific performances on both sides of the law, as well as some fantastic cinematography and set-pieces, most notable of which are a steam room assassination that’s second only to Eastern Promises‘ sauna shakedown and a tense stand-off in a hotel room that sees one T-Man make the ultimate sacrifice.
Although not quite as compelling as Mann’s later procedural, He Walked by Night, T-Men is arguably just as influential on films as diverse as James Bond and Lethal Weapon .