Watch Undercover Man
- 1 hr 6 min
'Undercover Man' is a 1942 crime-drama film directed by Lesley Selander, starring William Boyd, Andy Clyde, and Jay Kirby. The film's storyline takes place in New York City, where Boyd plays John Good, an undercover federal agent who poses as a small-time criminal to infiltrate a gang of counterfeiters. The film begins with a high-level meeting between the chief of the United States Treasury Department, the head of the Secret Service, and various other officials discussing the ways in which counterfeiters have been disrupting the nation's economy. A team is put together to investigate the matter, headed by John Good, who has a reputation for being an effective and experienced undercover agent. He is tasked with gathering intelligence on a dangerous counterfeiting ring operating in the city.
John's plan is to go undercover and pose as a counterfeiter in order to gain the trust of the gang's leader, Nick Castoral. He teams up with Stumpy (Andy Clyde), a bumbling and inept small-time crook, as his sidekick. After a few failed attempts to find Castoral, John manages to get acquainted with him and is taken under his wing as an associate.
John's journey through the criminal underworld introduces him to a number of interesting characters, including the seductive girlfriend of Castoral, Tanya (Queenie Smith), who is determined to break John's allegiance with the gang. Additionally, there is the trigger-happy Joe (Bergeron) and a couple of other gang members who saw through John's disguise, but decide to keep him around for their own benefit.
The plot thickens as John gets closer to the truth about the criminal enterprise. He manages to intercept a shipment of counterfeit money while posing as a truck driver, which leads to a high-speed chase through the city, involving a member of the gang, who is wounded.
John's cover is eventually compromised, leading to a life or death struggle with the gang. The film's climax, an explosive shootout between the undercover agent and the criminals, plays out like a classic western movie gunfight. As with many films of this era, justice prevails, and John manages to expose the entire operation, saving the country's economy from further damage.
'Undercover Man' is a typical mid 20th-century thriller, with a generous dose of gunfights, explosions, and car chases. It is enjoyable for those who appreciate the simplistic and uncluttered detective stories of the period. Though Boyd's and Clyde's characters are not particularly deep, their antics will still make the audience chuckle. Kirby's character, however, is poorly developed, and his performance is less than impressive.
The supporting cast is adequate throughout the film, though it may seem as though some of the actors in key roles are phoning in their performances. The film's script is average, and the pacing is a bit uneven. However, the cinematography captures New York City quite well, especially the seedy underworld where most of the action takes place.
Considering that the film was made in 1942, it does suffer from some of the issues inherent in many films from the era, including pervasive sexism and the occasional racial stereotype. However, for moviegoers interested in a snapshot of New York City's gritty gangster subculture of the time, 'Undercover Man' still provides an entertaining experience.
Overall, 'Undercover Man' is a decent thriller of its time. It does not break any ground but provides a fun ride for those who appreciate vintage crime films. With its simple plot, 'Undercover Man' is a good example of Hollywood's classic noir detective thrillers of the 1940s. Its leisurely pace may not appeal to modern audiences, but the cast's performances and the film's old-school gunfights make this movie worth watching.