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FBI Code 98


It's about a bomb, but isn't one.

Rod Lott May 6th, 2013

Despite how Warner Archive has branded it, 1963’s FBI Code 98 is not — repeat: not — film noir. All film noir is crime, but not all crime is film noir. That vaulted subgenre requires darkness, whereas this feature is so light and breezy, it’s practically a recruiting tool for the federal agency. It even has its own marching music.

fbicode98
No matter, really; I loved it all the same, so much so that I wish it had birthed a series of big-screen outings. (Instead, the idea eventually was rejiggered (sort of) into the long-running Efrem Zimbalist TV show, The FBI, and that doesn’t count.)

Directed by Leslie H. Martinson (1966’s Batman: The Movie), the black-and-white, documentary-style picture carries the endorsement of the FBI and a plot about a bomb implanted in the suitcase of one of three guys involved in Uncle Sam’s missile program. It’s discovered and defused successfully mid-flight, and on the ground, the agents swing into action to find the culprit.

As they go about their business, narrator William Woodson breaks in as needed to fill in audiences on the various elements, procedures and tactics related to the bureau’s work. It’s like a crash course in FBI 101. For instance, don’t you dare use the Red Cross emblem inappropriately, or the FBI will be on you like flies on poo.

Initial scenes that set the story in action may remind viewers of Robert Stack’s preparation sequence in Airplane! Also funny is how outdated the men’s views of women are; no movie I’ve seen in recent memory has done so much to belittle the better sex. Then again, consider the era: Gender confusion and J. Edgar Hoover simply went hand-in-hand. —Rod Lott

Hey! Read This:
The FBI: The First Season: Part One DVD review



 
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