Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Tonight's Movie: Special Agent (1935)

SPECIAL AGENT is a fairly entertaining Warner Bros. film in which federal agent George Brent poses as a newspaper reporter in order to gain access to mobster Ricardo Cortez. Brent is aided in his quest to send Cortez to Alcatraz by Bette Davis, who plays Cortez's reluctant bookkeeper.

Davis and Brent costarred numerous times, in classics such as JEZEBEL, THE OLD MAID, DARK VICTORY, and THE GREAT LIE. SPECIAL AGENT is part of what I think of as Brent's "pre-mustache" period (grin). He is fine as the earnest agent working for "Uncle Sam." (The film repeatedly emphasizes that while mobsters may escape local law enforcement, they will not be able to withstand the power of the federal government.) Wide-eyed Davis adds some electricity to the proceedings as the woman who wants to quit her job but knows it would likely mean her death.

Ricardo Cortez, who gained his name in the era of Hollywood's fascination with "Latin lovers," was originally Jacob Krantz of Austria. His career began in the silents and was mostly over by the end of the '40s, after which time Cortez had a successful second career at a Wall Street brokerage firm. His brother, Stanley Cortez, was a highly regarded cinematographer whose credits included THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS.

Irving Pichel, who plays the U.S. District Attorney, alternated between acting and directing for over two decades. The cast also includes Henry O'Neill, J. Carroll Naish, and Jack LaRue.

SPECIAL AGENT was directed by William Keighley. It runs 76 minutes.

SPECIAL AGENT can be seen on TCM. It's not yet available on DVD or video; click here to register interest in a DVD release or request that TCM add the movie to its upcoming schedule. (June 2015 Update: SPECIAL AGENT is now available on DVD from the Warner Archive. My review of the DVD is here.)

You can watch the trailer here.


Blogger windycorner said...

Hi Laura,
I couldn't wait to see what movie you'd put up for VAlentine's Day. This sounds so familiar, I think I've seen it on TCM. Can't go wrong with Bette Davis and George Brent, right? Happy Valentine's Day,

12:38 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Happy Valentine's Day, Holley! Thanks so much for stopping by. :)

Best wishes,

10:15 PM  

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