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The Undercover Man

This is a pretty interesting movie — as it says in the opening titles, this movie isn’t about spectacular action, but about the quotidian work done by IRS-ish agents trying to track down a criminal.

I mean, there’s a murder and stuff, but so far (at least) it’s mostly been the agents doing their low key work, sort of.

OK, there are some bits where interest lags… but then they do great scenes like this! Masterful.


Nevertheless, the film authentically portrayed the efforts of Wilson’s team to put together a tax evasion case against Capone, and in many respects, despite the name changes and nondescript settings, the film is a far more accurate depiction of the investigation than later films on the same subject like The Untouchables.

There’s a reason this isn’t a Film Noir classic — it’s a bit on the boring side at times. But! It’s a really original movie, not only for the sorta realistic portrayal of an investigation, but for things like the very moving scene with the Italian grandmother that would have been cut from any reasonable studio movie.

So I’m glad I watched it, even if it isn’t, you know, perfect.

The Undercover Man. Joseph H. Lewis. 1949.

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