The Law of Contact

C-Man (May 27, 1949)

Dean Jagger in C-Man

Released May 27, 1949: A New York City Customs officer investigates the death of his friend and fellow Customs Officer, and chases the gangsters that killed him in this noir murder thriller.

Directed by Joseph Lerner

The Actors: Dean Jagger (Cliff Holden, alias William Harrah), John Carradine (Doc Spencer), Lottie Elwen (Kathe van Bourne), Rene Paul (Matty Royal), Walter Vaughan (Customs Inspector Brandon), Adelaide Klein (Minnie Hoffman), Edith Atwater (Lydia Brundage), Harry Landers (Owney Shor), Jean Ellyn (Birdie Alton), Walter Brooke (Joe), Mariangela Giordano, Dennis Patrick.


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If you enjoy a hard-boiled detective on the trail of gangsters and murderers, this one is for you. A young Dean Jagger plays the part of a Customs Officer searching for the murderer of his friend, and the theft of a priceless necklace. The customs officer gets beat to within an inch of his life several times on the way to arresting the bad guys. And one of the unintentional bad guys is veteran bad-guy John Carradine.

The movie begins with Customs Agent Cliff Holden giving us a narrative of his vacation, as he is on the way back to work in New York City. When he arrives at the office, he discovers that his life-long friend, and also a Customs Officer, has been brutally murdered while working on a case. Cliff takes on the case, trying to recover a stolen necklace, but also finding the killer of his friend, who was also trying to recover the necklace. His boss gives him an alias as a local private investigator, complete with false passport, office and secretary. He flies to Paris in order to make the return flight next to the prime suspect. On the way to the plane, he meets a young lady that is on her way to be reunited with an American boy that she will marry when whe gets there. On the plane, Cliff is sitting next to the suspect, and the girl is sitting across the aisle. The girl is pleased that she is near Cliff and starts talking to him. He is more interested in the suspect seated next to him than her, but they exchange pleasantries. Unfortunately, the suspect sees them chatting, and offers to exchange seats with the lady, which she quickly accepts. Now the suspect is across the aisle from him, and his chances to get friendly with the suspect are pretty much down the drain.

Later, when the lady goes to the back of the plane to use the facilities, the suspect exchanges knowing glances with a fellow a few rows behind him, and that fellow gets up and follows the gal back to the toilet. Soon  a stewardess discovers that the gal seems to have fainted, and Cliff goes back to check it out. The stewardess goes to get a doctor that is aboard, and returns with the same fellow that followed our gal back and knocked her out. While no one is watching, he injects her with a needle full of something. As the plane lands, our suspect is searched for the necklace from head to shoe - yup, holly preview of 911 - this is 1949 and the customs inspector searches the fellows shoes! They find nothing, but have a sudden inspiration that the lady that was put in a waiting ambulance might carrying the necklace, and the chase is on. Our hero follows the trail in a classic noir movie fashion, and after several beatings from the gangsters, he doggedly follows the trail until he finally jumps through a mansion window in pure hero fashion to a grand, fist-fighting, gun-firing conclusion. Too soon this noir thriller is finished, your bowl of hot buttered popcorn is probably empty, and you've spent another hour and a quarter next to a gritty but good detective as he fights evil in the big city.