|Page 1 of 2:|| |
|Index||12 reviews in total|
Walk a Crooked Mile was filmed almost entirely on location. FBI agent
Dan O'Hara (Dennis O'Keefe) and Scotland Yard operative Philip Grayson
(Louis Hayward) team up to investigate a security leak at a Southern
California atomic plant. The investigation takes place in San
Francisco, where a communist spy ring flourishes. Actors as Raymond
Burr and Philip Van Zandt play the communist agents.
The documentary technique gives a factual gloss to the melodramatic format. Action moves back and forth between San Francisco and the atomic plant in southern California. Gordon Douglas' knowledgeable directing keeps the film moving forward. He manages to build suspense through misdirection. The method used to take information out of the atomic plant is well protected thus keeping you guessing.
The movie is typical 40s and early 50s film noir.
Walk A Crooked Mile finds Louis Hayward as a Scotland Yard man and
Dennis O'Keefe as an FBI agent finding themselves on the same case in
their respective countries. Finding it convenient and necessary they
join forces to track down Communist spies looking to steal data on an
unnamed atomic project in southern California.
Columbia Pictures was imitating the documentary style drama so popularized at 20th Century Fox by Henry Hathaway with such films as The House On 92nd Street, The Street With No Name, and Call Northside 777. Certainly Hayward and O'Keefe are a stalwart pair of agents defending their respective country's interests in the Cold War.
This whole thing begins with a murder of an FBI man who was right in the middle of calling O'Keefe with some hot news about a suspected Communist he was trailing. O'Keefe is the head of security at a defense plant where atomic research is being done. It doesn't take a man versed in rocket science to know something big is afoot. Along the way Hayward comes into the case and the two of them track down the espionage that's been going on.
Onslow Stevens as the brains and Raymond Burr as the muscle in the Communist cell are a fine pair of heavies. Atomic scientists suspected of the treason include Carl Esmond, Louise Allbritton, Art Baker, Lowell Gilmore and Charles Evans. One of them's a dirty red.
When Burr gets the drop on Hayward and O'Keefe temporarily, they get some help from landlady Tamara Shayne. It's a good small role and she steals the film from all the rest.
Cooperation on espionage cases is nothing new. We're seeing it now in the War on Terror. The Rosenberg case was started because of the original apprehension of Klaus Fuchs by British Intelligence who traced the activity to America. The Igor Gouzenko espionage case was solved by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Canada.
By the way, one wonders if the unnamed atomic project they were all concerned about was the hydrogen bomb. Nuclear fusion was just starting to get out of the theoretical stage at this time.
Walk A Crooked Mile is not a bad spy film. Another cinema tribute to the FBI in peace and war.
Well-made political thriller. 1948 is the year Hollywood joined the
anti-communist crusade, and there's no mistaking the bad guys-- Raymond
Burr in a Lenin-like goatee, a sinister gathering of "comrades", and
Hollywood's version of commie rhetoric about how the individual doesn't
matter in the global scheme of things. Up to that point, the studios
had been turning out generally pro-Soviet films in behalf of our WWII
allies. But now, turning on a dime, we find out what perfidious
characters we had been supporting. Oh well, as they say, in politics
there are no permanent friends or enemies, only permanent interests.
Square-jawed Dennis O'Keefe makes for a dogged and intrepid FBI agent aided by Scotland Yard loan-out Louis Hayward. Together, they show what sterling fellows the English-speaking world turns out. They're on the trail of a covert Soviet spy sneaking out secrets from what is likely a bomb designing laboratory, though it's never specified. The plot rather prophetically anticipates the Klaus Fuchs affair of 1949, when the German-born spy was exposed as smuggling A-bomb secrets to the Soviets as early as 1945.
The suspense revolves around who the lab spy is and how he's getting the secrets out. It makes for entertaining, if workman-like, viewing. The familiar narrator Reed Hadley lends stentorian authority, along with some fine location photography. Together they impart a sense of reality to what are otherwise standard stereotypes and a melodramatic plot. Sure it's Hollywood's manipulative brand of political cinema, this time turned on our former friends. But at least it's watchable, minus the kind of cold-war hysteria that came to characterize other efforts of the period. All in all, an interesting and revealing reflection of its time.
WALK A CROOKED MILE is the sort of brisk, documentary style espionage
yarn so often made during the '40s, using narration to tell the story
of two espionage agents (DENNIS O'KEEFE and LOUIS HAYWARD) assigned to
track down whomever is responsible for leaking top secret information
developed at a nuclear plant in California.
Most of the action takes place in San Francisco, where O'Keefe and Hayward discover that an artist (ONSLOW STEVENS) is putting coded information beneath his paintings when he receives it from a spy working for the government agency. The story traces how the spy ring operates and it is these details that give the film added interest before the spies are caught. All of the methods must seem dated by today's standards of F.B.I. work, but the manner of presentation is gripping and the clever cat-and-mouse game that is played between the agents and the spies is credible and fascinating.
It's smoothly directed by Gordon Douglas at a fast clip. RAYMOND BURR has his usual "bad guy" role as one of he spies, and LOUISE ALLBRITTON, CARL ESMOND, ART BAKER and CHARLES EVANS all make interesting suspects in the mystery behind the identity of the key traitor.
Well worth viewing.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"The House on 92nd Street" -- a paean to the FBI's anti-Nazi effort
during the war -- begat a host of similarly structured films. There is
some kind of MacGuffin, often involving microfilm, winding up "in the
wrong hands" and being smuggled out of the country. There is the FBI at
the center of the story, successfully unraveling the mystery. The FBI
uses awesomely modern technology, such as spy cameras, one-way mirrors,
hidden microphones, and files containing thousands of fingerprints. The
FBI are business-like but they're good Joes too, wisecracking with one
another without ever forgetting their mission. The enemy are
cold-blooded, gruff, don't say hello to one another, never smile except
wryly, sacrifice one of their own at the drop of a solecism, and are
clever in the way that sewer rats are clever. Narration invariably by
the stentorian baritone of Reed Hadley.
Reed Hadley narrates this one too, coming several years after "The House on 92nd Street." At Lakeview Laboratory, somebody seems to be smuggling out confidential formulae about rockets, trajectories, nuclear physics, the secret ingredients of Coca-Cola, and such to a spy -- Russians, this time around, not Nazis -- who then PAINTS THEM into a landscape of San Francisco and ships them to another spy in London. And so on and so forth.
Dennis O'Keefe is the agent in charge of the investigation. Louis Hayward is the Scotland Yard detective who uncovers the plot and comes to the states to work with the FBI. They both had leads in minor pictures but they were steady and reliable actors. Onslow Stevens plays a character whose name is Igor Braun. I leave it to you to guess whether this is one of the good guys or the bad guys. That's -- Igor -- Braun. Raymond Burr is a plump, bearded heavy. He doesn't make any jokes but neither do any of the other rats. He's satisfactorily sadistic. Tamara Shayne, as an innocent landlady, gives the best performance in the film. Art Baker, as head of the laboratory, has a voice made for radio.
It's all terribly dated and formulaic but I kind of enjoyed it. Gordon Douglas keeps things moving along, nobody torpedoes the movie, the acting is okay, and the mystery is rather interesting, if implausible.
Nice, minor job.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Prior to and during the Second World War, Hollywood was preoccupied
with the Nazis infiltrating American industry and stealing secrets.
Following the war, the focus shifted to the threat of communism.
"Walk a Crooked Mile" was one of the first, if not the first Hollywood film to deal with the so-called "red menace". Produced by Edward Small and directed by Gordon Douglas, the film is presented in a docu-drama style complete with voice over narration (by Reed Hadley). You could call it a film-noir but although it contains many elements of that genre, it is really more of spy mystery.
Atomic secrets are being stolen and smuggled out of the country by communist interests from the Atomic plant at Lakeview, California. Secret formulas are turning up embedded in paintings abroad. One such painting turns up in Great Britain and Scotland Yard sends Inspector "Scotty" Grayson (Louis Hayward) to America to work with the FBI to ferret out the spies, where the FBI team is headed up by Agent Daniel O'Hara (Dennis O'Keefe).
After an FBI agent is murdered, O'Hara and Grayson discover foreign agent Anton Radcheck (Philip Van Zandt) might be involved. After Radcheck is murdered they learn that the artist painting the suspect pictures is foreign agent Igor Braun (Onslow Stevens). Because the secret formulas are turning up "hot off the press" as it were, the boys deduce that there must me a mole planted within the atomic plant.
The suspects include the Board members of the plant headed by Dr. Townsend (Art Baker). The others include the alluring Dr. Toni Neva (Louise Allbritton), ex German scientist Dr. von Stolb (Carl Esmond), Dr. Forrest (Lowell Gilmore) and Dr. Allen (Charles Evans).
After a working over by the brutish Krebbs (Raymond Burr) the boys escape and are able unmask the internal spy.
Although the foreign interest isn't named, we can deduce from the names of the villains that the U.S.S.R. was the likely culprit.
Dennis O'Keefe had just appeared in two excellent films directed by Anthony Mann, "T-Men (1947)" and "Raw Deal (1948)" and was the real star of this film. Hayward, in my opinion, was not convincing enough as the Scotland Yard detective. He was more at home as a swashbuckler. Since there is no "femme fatale" love interest, Louise Allbritton is sadly wasted as a scientist. A slim Raymond Burr though, turns in another of his many pre-Perry Mason brutal villain roles.
"Walk a Crooked Mile" would signal the beginning of Hollywood's anti-communist era.
Dennis O'Keefe, (Daniel O'Hara) plays the role as a FBI Agent who is in charge of finding out how a Southern California atomic plant is having leaks of top secret plans and why one of their agents is killed trying to find out this important information. Scotty Grayson, (Louis Hayward) is a Scotland Yard Inspector who is also called into the FBI office and is working with Daniel O'Hara because he has some important information that can help to solve this case. Raymond Burr, (Krebs) plays the role as a communist who is a very dangerous man who will stop anyone trying to upset their plan to obtain this secret information. This picture is dealing with the Cold War period in history and the scientists in the atomic plant are all under investigation. This film is very entertaining and Dennis O'Keefe gave a great performance along with Raymond Burr just starting out his career and giving a great supporting role. Enjoy.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It occurred to me while watching this picture that if made just a few
years earlier, it could have served well as a Sherlock Holmes film. A
couple that come immediately to mind are "Sherlock Holmes and the Voice
of Terror" and "Sherlock Holmes in Washington". The difference though,
in the case of "Walk a Crooked Mile", is the presence of those nasty
Russian Commies in the place of Nazi agents. The opening screen
narrative pays tribute to those federal agents who defend the country
against saboteurs and no-goodniks who would 'walk a crooked mile' to do
their dirty deeds.
The story is tightly scripted with a number of twists and turns while teaming FBI Agent Dan O'Hara (Denis O'Keefe) with Scotland Yard counterpart Philip Grayson (Louis Hayward). O'Hara takes it upon himself to nickname Grayson 'Scotty' in service to his employer, I thought that was a rather nifty touch. The action takes place in Southern California and involves smuggling newly defined mathematical formulas out of the country by way of concealing them in artwork of San Francisco cityscapes. The intrigue involved in making this discovery was cleverly done, and though it occurs rather quickly for the sake of the story, one has to wonder about the number of man hours involved in the undercover work required to break a case like this.
Just as in the Holmes films, proper devotion to the cause of patriotism on both sides of the Atlantic is displayed, but not in a way one might think and not via any of the principals. At one point, Grayson's landlady (Tamara Shayne) is roughed up, shot and killed by low-life Commie Krebs (an austere Raymond Burr), and with her dying breath, extols the virtue of a country that did so much for her. Grayson and O'Hara were suitably impressed.
The film showed up on one of the cable channels in my area, featured as part of a noir film lineup, but for my money it more closely resembled an espionage thriller. It's got noir elements certainly, and if you want to consider Louise Albritton's role in the picture as your basic femme fatale, it would have worked, but she was eventually exonerated as part of the research lab team that included the traitors working for the Communists. I had to control my disdain for the character of Dr. Allen (Charles Evans) at the finale, one of the bad guys who disingenuously asserted his Constitutional rights when his treasonous role was discovered. Sounds kind of familiar when applied to present day, doesn't it?
"Walk A Crooked Mile" (1948) is a well-done noir, start to finish. Among noirs, this one does not make it into lists of best or lists of favorites even though its quality is very good. This just goes to show you how high the general level of noir film quality was in the classic era. The story falls into several noir categories: Red scare, spy and police procedural. It's not preceded by a foreword from a government official. It has narration, more at the outset, from Reed Hadley, who has an official sounding voice. The whole movie is photographed by George Robinson in beautiful noir style using San Francisco locations. Tight direction owes to Gordon Douglas, and coincidentally I referred to his "fine direction" recently in reviewing "They Call Me Mr. Tibbs" (1970), which was 22 years later. The movies of Douglas flow beautifully, precluding dull moments and interludes. The story in this case breathes life into its familiar plot points through detail, suspense and fine acting in both large and small parts. Definitely recommended.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
**SPOILERS** With hard edge news documentary style narrating by Reed
Hadley the film "Walk a Crooked Mile" was made and released by
Hollywood during the congressional hearing about Hollywood possible
being run by crypto Communists both behind and in front of the camera.
It was suspected by many in the US Congress and Senate that they were
secretly brainwashing the clueless US movie audiences on the wonders of
the Communist system by incorporating them into their films. In the
film there's this Communist spy ring that unfiltered the Lakeview
Nuclear Labs in Southern California who's been stealing formulas in
advance nuclear physics and atomic bomb making.
It's up to FBI Secret Agent Dan O'Hara, Dennis O'Keefe, and his partner from across the ocean Scotland yard investigator Philip Grayson, Louis Hayward, to crack the ring and bring those in it to justice. What makes both O'Hara & Grayson's job so difficult is that the sneaky Communists have a secret system of sneaking out the information to their outside contact in far off San Francisco from right under the FBI's noses! What's even worse is if that any one of the crew of Communists screws up and is about to be pinched or arrested by the FBI and spill the beans on them they suddenly end up dead.
A bit over the top in how the Communist agents use strong arm tactics that in fact would, like it did in the film, exposed not hide them in plain sight from the FBI as well as local police. Among the Communist goons who do the dirty work for them is future TV Perry Mason Raymond Burr as Krebs who's Mafia like bone and head breaking actions do far more harm to their cause then help it.
It takes a while for both O'Hara & Grayson to find out not just how the Communist ring inside Lakeview not only sneaks out the important information but who's the person in charge of it. By then the two were caught worked over and almost killed by the Communist agents and their goons who had so many chances to murder them but somehow didn't. This in fact made them look far more decent then they were supposed, in showing what murderous rats they are, to be in the movie. That by not batting an eye in gunning down or poisoning anyone, even among themselves, whom they slightly suspected was a danger to their secret plans.
***SPOILERS*** In the end both O'Hara & Grayson finally managed to escape from their butterfingered Communist captors and finally track down the head of the Communist ring at the Lakeview Nuclear Labs but only after O'Hara is again almost killed by the Communists on his way to meet Gryson and with the help of the local police and FBI arrest him. Still after being caught "red handed " the head man of the Communist ring at the Lakeview Nuclear Labs will be protected of his rights as an American citizen guaranteed by the US Constitution that he and his fellow Communist secret agents were so desperately, to the point of murder, trying to destroy.
|Page 1 of 2:|| |
|Plot summary||Ratings||External reviews|
|Plot keywords||Main details||Your user reviews|
|Your vote history|