C-MAN || 1949, USA || Drama || Directed by – Joseph Lerner / Written by – Berne Giler / Produced by – Rex Carlton, Joseph Lerner, Ralph Porter, Irving Lerner / Music by – Gail Kubik / Cinematography – Gerald Hirschfeld / Editing by – Geraldine Lerner / Starring – Dean Jagger, John Carradine / Running time: 75 mins.
A customs agent named Cliff Holden, played by Dean Jagger, goes on the trail of a necklace killer to bust up a jewel smuggling racked, which led to the murder of his best friend.
C-Man, directed by Joseph Lerner, exists on two parallel dimension. One is the usual B-movie structure or formula, tried and tested by many of its contemporaries, and the other is that which sees the use of a pseudo-documentary construction. The latter often seems out of place, but together with the fact that C-Man was shot on authentic locations in New York City – rather than the normally used stagy studio sets – is worth pointing out because it gives the complete work an urban, gritty feel that would have been praised by the auteur critics of Cahier du Cinéma decades later.
Occasional cheap thrills do not save C-Man from ultimately being forgettable. John Carradine is sufficiently sinister and slimy in his role as the villain, and far more impressive than the stone-faced Holden in the role of the central customs agent. – 2/5