FBI GIRL (director: William Berke; screenwriters: based on articles by Rupert Hughes/Dwight Babcock/Richard Landau; cinematographer: Jack Greenhalgh; editor: Phil Cahn; music: Darrell Calker; cast: Cesar Romero (FBI Agent Glen Stedman), George Brent (FBI Agent Jeff Donley), Audrey Totter (Shirley Wayne), Tom Drake (Carl Chercourt), Raymond Burr (Blake), Raymond Greeleaf (John Williams, alias Gov. Owen Grisby), Alexander Pope (Denning), Margia Dean (Natalie Craig, the FBI girl), Don Garner (Paul Craig), Richard Monahan (Donald, the clerk); Runtime: 77; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: William Berke; VCI Entertainment; 1951)
“There’s nothing about this programmer that would make you want to see it or not see it.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
FBI Girl is based on the story by Rupert Hughes, the uncle of Howard R. Hughes. The programmer is packaged by VCI Entertainment on DVD as Forgotten Noir Vol. 5, with the 1949 B-film Tough Assignment, starring Red Barry, as the other part of the double feature. It’s efficiently directed, for a B-film, by William Berke (“Cop Hater”/”The Mugger”/”Street of Sinners”), but its few attempts at comic relief do not get over (woman office clerks act as bimbos and a comic team provide a dull vaudeville routine on TV).
The ruthless thug Blake (Raymond Burr), connected to the syndicate and the power behind the governor, blackmails weakling Paul Craig (Don Garner) to get his sister Natalie (Margia Dean), who works as a clerk in the FBI fingerprint office in Washington D.C., to steal the fingerprint card of John Williams. Those are really the fingerprints of the ambitious current Capitol City governor Grisby (Raymond Greeleaf), of an unnamed state, who in his youth worked for the syndicate and committed murder. Grisby is now scared that a Senate Crime Committee holding an investigation will dig up his unsavory past and change of identity into a respected politician thereby ruining him. After Natalie steals the card, her car is run off the road and she’s killed by Blake and one of his hired goons named Denning (Alexander Pope). But Natalie doesn’t have the card in her purse (apparently changing her mind), to the dismay of Blake.
The crack FBI agents Donley (George Brent) and Stedman (Cesar Romero) are in charge of the case since it involves the suspicious death of an FBI worker and deduct is was murder and not a hit-and-run accident, as they find the prints of career criminal Denning on the purse. The agents plaster Denning’s wanted poster all over town, but before they can track Denning down he murders a bellhop who identified him as a resident in his hotel and then Paul in his apartment. Denning is fooled into believing Paul is still alive by those clever agents and he enters the hospital disguised as a priest to murder the supposedly critically stricken survivor, but slips off the hospital ledge trying to avoid the G-men who set a trap for him. Blake then recruits the ambitious lobbyist, Carl Chercourt(Tom Drake), for Capitol City, to get his FBI office clerk girlfriend Shirley (Audrey Totter) to steal the fingerprint card of John Williams. Shirley is no Natalie and tells the FBI agents, and they catch up with Blake after putting a tail on her. It climaxes with a shootout at the governor’s residence in Virginia.
It seems less like film noir than just a routine procedural crime drama, whose only quirky character is the fat man killer played by Pope. There’s nothing about this programmer that would make you want to see it or not see it.
REVIEWED ON 3/26/2010 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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