Undercover cop, Patrick Holt, at constant risk of being discovered
Author: msroz from United States
9 April 2013
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"13 East Street", released in 1952, stars Patrick Holt as an undercover cop, Michael Balfour as an amiable thief who gets him into the gang, Michael Brennan as a gang heavy suspicious of Holt, and Sandra Dorne as the attractive and ambitious girl friend of the gang leader.
Undercover police operations were popular plots in such full-fledged film noirs of this era as "T-Men", "Port of New York", "C-Man", "Southside 1-1000", and "White Heat". Is "13 East Street" in this major league? Its focus on the gang brings it into the noir circle, but it is an understated and much lighter variety of noir that lacks the ambiance of the heavy hitters. It's mainly a serviceable thriller. Certain elements have a noir quality, and they include Dorne's role, the fate of a police contact, the single-mindedness of Brennan, the duplicity of the police operation, and, of all things, a vicuna overcoat.
This story places Holt in almost constant peril of being discovered, either by the hostility and jealous watchfulness of Brennan, the wiles of blonde Dorne, or by accidentally running into a nosy neighbor of him and his wife. Holt has to communicate with his police contact, Alan Judd, and that is a near constant source of tension. Then there are the risks of discovery when Holt snoops around or takes a phone call meant for the gang leader.
Overall, a worthy entry, still enjoyable 61 years later.
Side note. Holt's actual wife (Sonia Holm) played his screen wife in the movie. Holt later married Sandra Dorne!