Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Tonight's Movie: FBI Girl (1951)

FBI GIRL is a fun, fast-paced docu-noir set in Washington, D.C. Cesar Romero and George Brent as G men, supported by Audrey Totter, Tom Drake, and Raymond Burr, is my idea of a good time at the movies.

A governor (Raymond Greenleaf) hoping to move up -- way up -- in politics has a dark secret in his past under another name, and it becomes necessary that his henchman (the ever-slimy Burr) track down and destroy the governor's decades-old fingerprint card at the FBI.

Eventually FBI fingerprint clerk Shirley Wayne (Totter) is asked to retrieve the card by her lobbyist fiance (Drake), who has ties to the governor. She agrees -- but only after informing two FBI agents (Romero and Brent), who guide her on a dangerous mission as she works to solve the mystery.

This was a very enjoyable, somewhat different movie. It has the usual serious docu-noir overtones, with the standard narration provided by Romero, but it also has a slightly giddy attitude at times, whether it's the banter between Romero and Brent, a wisecracking morgue attendant (Byron Foulger), or the straight-laced G men interacting with Totter's voluptuous-but-dumb blonde roommates.

Somehow the sight of Cesar Romero leaning out of a helicopter machine gunning Burr's speedboat made me laugh at the same time I was buying into it; the movie just had a slightly punchy edge where the viewer can take it seriously but at the same time it induces amused grins. Mostly I smiled and thought "This is great!"

That said, there's a rather strange sequence where Romero is stuck watching a comedy sketch on TV with the roommates; I have no idea why the filmmakers chose to linger so long on the TV comics (Peter Marshall and Tommy Noonan), a minute or two which could easily have been excised from the film.

The roles aren't much of a stretch for any of the actors involved; they all do their thing well within the confines of a fairly straightforward, short script. The bottom line is those who like the cast and docu-noirs will have a good time.

FBI GIRL was directed by William Berke. It runs 74 minutes. The supporting cast includes Margia Dean, Joi Lansing, Jan Kayne, Alexander Pope, Richard Monahan, Don Garner, and Walter Coy.

FBI GIRL is available in a good print from VCI's Kit Parker Double Feature series. It can be purchased paired with the film TOUGH ASSIGNMENT (1949) in a set labeled Forgotten Noir Vol. 5 or an even better deal is to purchase it in the six-film Forgotten Noir Collector's Set 2, which gathers together three double feature discs at a lower price.

Extras on FBI GIRL include a trailer and photo gallery, and best of all, a commentary track by Alan K. Rode of the Film Noir Foundation. Alan is a terrific guy who provides knowledgeable and enthusiastic introductions to many of the films at Hollywood's annual Noir City Film Festival, and I know it's going to be a fun and informative track.

The DVD can be rented from Netflix.

This would make an entertaining double bill paired with SOUTHSIDE 1-1000 (1950); together the films depict federal agents working on both the East and West Coasts.


Blogger barrylane said...

Rupert Hughes, uncle of Howard, was the genius behind this project.

5:56 PM  
Blogger dfordoom said...

I saw that one not long ago. An entertaining little movie.

8:50 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Had no idea of the Hughes connection, that's so interesting! Was listening to Alan Rode's commentary at lunch today and he mentioned that too. Fun bit of info.

Glad you also had fun watching it, dfordoom! I'm enjoying taking a fresh look via the commentary track. Definitely a peppy, fast-paced movie.

Best wishes,

1:03 PM  
Blogger Caftan Woman said...

I'll have to give it a look. I'm a huge Burr fan. Last week was my first viewing of "Pitfall" wherein Burr was doing his best Cregar.

Gee, now I'm in the mood for that one with Dennis O'Keefe and Louis Hayward chasing commies. "Walk a Crooked Mile"? Funny how we get in these moods.

3:23 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Caftan Woman,

I loved PITFALL -- you're right, Burr was Cregar-esque in that one, a bit like Cregar in I WAKE UP SCREAMING. :) Hope you enjoyed PITFALL and will enjoy FBI GIRL too when you get a chance to see it.


Best wishes,

7:38 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older