Friday, August 29, 2008


There is a security leak at the government's nuclear physics lab in Lakeview, California, and FBI agent Dennis O'Keefe is in charge of finding out who's responsible. One of his fellow agents calls with a hot tip, but is shot in the head in a phone booth before he can say anything more. Commie agent Philip Van Zandt is followed to San Francisco and put under surveillance, but he winds up killed by his own people before the FBI can learn anything from him. O'Keefe is soon paired up with a Scotland Yard agent (Louis Hayward) who is on the trail of someone who is shipping paintings to England which have top secret formulas hidden on them, visible under ultraviolet light. They stake out the apartment of the artist (Onslow Stevens) and soon realize that someone very high up at the Lakeview lab is leaking the info to Stevens within 24 hours of each formula's finalization. The four chief scientists and their secretary are all watched carefully, but the formulas are still getting out. The chief suspects are the German refugee scientist (Carl Esmond) and the secretary (Louise Allbritton). An art shop and a laundry become important sites of surveillance, and Raymond Burr pops up as a thuggish spy who threatens the lives of our G-men before the spy ring is finally brought down. This is a solid, fast-moving, documentary-style spy thriller, like THE HOUSE ON 92ND STREET or T-MEN, with a noirish feel. Some San Francisco location shooting and a general lack of heightened melodrama help give the movie the ring of authenticity. One scene later in the film involving a selfless landlady (Tamara Shayne) goes a bit over the top, but it doesn't unbalance the film. The leads are good as is Allbritton, and I like the fact that there is no extraneous business involving romances or a British-American rivalry, both of which I thought would surely crop up. [TCM]

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