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July 20 , 2008

The Crime Films of Anthony Mann


Anthony Mann (1906-1967) is renowned for his outstanding 1950s westerns starring James Stewart (Winchester '73, The Naked Spur, The Man from Laramie). But there is more to Mann's cinematic universe than those tough Wild West action dramas featuring conflicted and secretive heroes. This brilliant Hollywood craftsman also directed fourteen electrifying crime thrillers between 1942 and 1951, among them such towering achievements in film noir as T-Men, Raw Deal, and Side Street. Mann was as much at home filming dark urban alleys in black-and-white as he was the prairies and mountains in Technicolor, and his protagonists were no less conflicted and secretive than his 1950s cowboys.

In these Mann crime thrillers we find powerful stories of sexual obsession (The Great Flamarion), the transforming images of women in wartime and postwar America (Strangers in the Night, Strange Impersonation), exploitation of Mexican immigrants (Border Incident), studies of the criminal mind (He Walked by Night), and Civil War bigotry (The Tall Target). Mann's forceful camera captured such memorable and diverse stars as Erich von Stroheim, Farley Granger, Dennis O'Keefe, Claire Trevor, Richard Basehart, Ricardo Montalbán, Ruby Dee, and Raymond Burr.

The Crime Films of Anthony Mann features analysis of rare documents, screenplays, story treatments, and studio memoranda and reveals detailed behind-the-scenes information on preproduction and production on the Mann thrillers. Author Max Alvarez uses rare and newly available sources to explore the creation of these noir masterworks. Along the way, the book exposes secrets and solves mysteries surrounding the mercurial director and his remarkable career, which also included Broadway and early live television.

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