Friday, November 28, 2008

FBI GIRL (1951)

“There are some things that can’t be done with a gun or a pay-off.”


Evil Ironsides, Battle of the Thin Mustaches, two great Hollywood loafer-lighteners, the irritating comedy styling of Noonan and Marshall, Squeaky the Hot Nerd Roomie, Grey Thunder vs. Night Boat, and John Williams, film score master, Oscar-winning composer, triple homicide suspect.

More details here.


For the dumb guys in the back, the ominous narration informs us that Washington, D.C. is a center of law enforcement. At the center of that upholding is the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Agents Stedman (Cesar Romero) and Donley (George Brent) are two tough cookie G-men whose latest case involves the hit-and-run murder of the titular character, a young woman who worked as a clerk at the FBI. In order to aid her blackmailed brother, she stole a fingerprint card that links the identity of murder suspect John Williams to a prominent governor (Raymond Greenleaf) who’s looking to capture a Senate seat. The governor’s sinister taskmaster Blake (Raymond Burr) pulls the strings to get this dark chapter erased by using extortion, tubby henchmen, and bow-tied lobbyists. The dead girl’s roommate (Audrey Totter) is also an FBI worker and is enlisted to help with the investigation. She proves to be especially useful when it’s discovered that she is engaged to said lobbyist (Tom Drake) who has ties to Blake and the governor. The Agents race against time to discover who John Williams really is while Blake masterfully manipulates his characters like an evil puppet master. Now, if only he took boat driving lessons.


Part of the Forgotten Film Noir collections, FBI Girl is a very middling thriller with all the excitement and thrills of a weak Dragnet episode. Maybe they should have titled the DVD series Best Left Forgotten Film Noir. No one really stands out in this standard procedural. Romero and Brent parade around like identical twins and trounce through perfunctory dialog and little character depth. Totter and Drake present average performances that raise the acting bar in the film to ‘TV movie’. The only exception is Burr, who turns in another effective heavy role. The production is straight-forward with slight noir touches here and there, but nothing to go nuts about. It’s difficult to dislike what VCI, the distributors of this DVD series, are doing. Although the output is mediocre, at least they are putting out films that would otherwise fade away into some vortex of obscurity. Fortunately, as their releases continue (hopefully) we’ll some day find a noir-ish treat. Unfortunately, FBI Girl ain't it.

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