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T Men poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAnthony Mann
Screenplay byJohn C. Higgins
Story byVirginia Kellogg
Produced byAubrey Schenck
StarringDennis O'Keefe
Mary Meade
Alfred Ryder
Narrated byReed Hadley
CinematographyJohn Alton
Edited byFred Allen
Music byPaul Sawtell
Color processBlack and white
Edward Small Productions
Bryan Foy Productions
Distributed byEagle-Lion Films
Release dates
  • December 15, 1947 (1947-12-15) (United States)
  • December 25, 1947 (1947-12-25) (Los Angeles)
  • January 22, 1948 (1948-01-22) (New York City)
Running time
92 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$424,000[1] or $450,000[2]
Box office$1.6 million (US/Canada)[1][2]
$2.5 million (worldwide)[2]

T-Men is a 1947 semi-documentary style film noir about United States Treasury agents. The film was directed by Anthony Mann and shot by noted noir cameraman John Alton. The production features Dennis O'Keefe, Mary Meade, Alfred Ryder, Wallace Ford, June Lockhart and Charles McGraw.[3] A year later, director Mann used the film's male lead, Dennis O'Keefe, in Raw Deal.[4]

The film was identified as a B movie when featured in the 1992 documentary Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography for its use of lighting and in the discussion about film noir.[5]


The story involves two U.S. Treasury ("T-men") agents who go undercover in Detroit and then Los Angeles in an attempt to break a U.S. currency counterfeiting ring.

The agents try to join the gang by posing as counterfeiters from out of town. They eventually join the gang but the stakes are set even higher when one of the agents is killed by the gang while the other undercover T-man watches in horror.



The film was the first of a series of film noirs from Eagle Lion. Edward Small provided the finance and Eagle Lion took 25% of the profits.[1]

Locations feature the old Los Angeles Plaza area. The undercover cop, seeking his contact, leaves Union Station, crosses Alameda and walks up notorious Ferguson Alley (once full of brothels and opium dens on LA's "old Chinatown") and by the Lugo adobe (all torn down for "The Slot", LA's first downtown freeway).

Next, he goes into a Chinese apothecary (once LA's first fire station and now restored as part of the Plaza).


The film was successful at the box office.[6]

Critical response[edit]

The New York Times film critic, Bosley Crowther, gave the film a positive review, "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 ... Made in part on locations in Detroit and Los Angeles, it does have a look of reality not often encountered in such films ... 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."[7]

Contemporary film critic, Dennis Schwartz, praised the film, writing, "The compelling well-made fake realism of the small studio sleeper semi-documentary crime thriller, T-Men, brought to wider attention the immense skills of B-film director Anthony Mann (Desperate/The Tin Star/The Man from Laramie) and cinematographer John Alton ... John Alton's brilliant camerawork makes the mise en scène dramatically grander than the matter-of-fact tone of the narration."[8]

Although the film was a success it led to a breach between Small and Eagle Lion, as Small was unhappy with the way his contribution to the film was minimized in advertising.[9]


The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Sound (Jack Whitney).[10]


The film was remade in 1969, as The File of the Golden Goose, directed by Sam Wanamaker and starring Yul Brynner and Edward Woodward and this time set in London, England instead of the United States.[11]

In 1970 Small announced he intended to turn the film into a TV series but it did not eventuate.[12]


  1. ^ a b c Balio, Tino. United Artists: The Company That Changed the Film Industry, University of Wisconsin Press, 1987, p. 26.
  2. ^ a b c Variety 16 June 1948 p4
  3. ^ T-Men at the American Film Institute Catalog.
  4. ^ Raw Deal at the American Film Institute Catalog.
  5. ^ Costello, Michael. Allmovie by Rovi, film review, no date. Accessed: August 1, 2013.
  6. ^ https://archive.org/stream/variety171-1948-07#page/n104/mode/1up
  7. ^ Crowther, Bosley. The New York Times, film review, "T-Men, Story of Job Done by Treasury Department Agents, Is New Bill at Criterion", January 23, 1948. Accessed: August 1, 2013.
  8. ^ Schwartz, Dennis. Ozus' World Movie Reviews, film review, March 22, 2005. Accessed: August 1, 2013.
  9. ^ Brady, Thomas F. (March 27, 1948). "Small, Eagle-Lion Break Relations: Producer Holds Distributors Minimized His Contribution to Recent Film T-Men". The New York Times. p. 10.
  10. ^ "The 20th Academy Awards (1948) Nominees and Winners". AMPAS. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
  11. ^ The File of the Golden Goose at IMDb.
  12. ^ artin, Betty (May 22, 1970). "Cloris Leachman Signs Pact". Los Angeles Times. p. g18.

External links[edit]