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DVD Review: Federal Men (aka Treasury Men in Action)

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If there’s one thing the United States of America has never been in short supply of, it’s the element of crime and the ne’er-do-gooders that enable such a component to take place and thrive — from a common hood on the corner to an entire corporation’s treatment of its employees. But we only go after the bad guys on the streets: and the horribly-named early ’50s television classic Treasury Men in Action — which was also broadcast under the much-more-alluring Federal Men — exploited actual cases wherein the U.S. Treasury said “Hey, you can’t do that, Mr. John Q. Criminal!” and turned them into primetime TV drama.

Here, Walter Greaza — a television character actor who really isn’t remembered for much more than this (and that’s kind of stretching it) — plays the Treasury chief, who introduces and narrates each week’s case. The weekly series, which was originally aired live, cast various up-and-comers and established performers alike (Ross Martin, Tom McKee, James Dean, Claude Akins, Charles Bronson, et al) — directing its audience to the assortment of wrongs committed by counterfeiters, escaped prisoners, bootleggers, gamblers, and the like.

One of several regular directors the series had was none other than William “One-Shot” Beaudine, the prolific b-movie helmsman of numerous East Side Kids/Bowery Boys and Bela Lugosi features, as well as the infamous Billy the Kid Meets Dracula and its western/horror counterpart, Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter.

Now, more than 60 years since the show first aired on ABC, the folks at Film Chest have compiled a (barebones) three-disc set of the series — which presents us with sixteen out-of-order episodes from the show’s final fifth season (which contained approximately 39 episodes total). Interestingly, most — if not all — of these episodes had already been released on DVD by Alpha Video several years ago, and look just about as beat-up as the budget label releases that hit the shelves back then. In fact, I dare say they’re the same.

Oh, well, it just shows that both labels know a fun item when they see it — and are each capable of re-introducing it to those who saw (and subsequently) forgot about the series long ago, and those of us who could use a new old show to tune into. At least that’s the way I’m going to look at this affordably-priced serving of vintage television bliss. Enjoy.

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About Luigi Bastardo

Luigi Bastardo is the disgruntled alter-ego of a thirtysomething lad from Northern California who has watched so many weird movies since the tender age of 3 that a conventional life is out of the question. He currently lives in Chico, CA with four cats named Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Margaret. Seriously.