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The Crooked Way (1949)

Passed | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 22 April 1949 (USA)
War hero recovers from amnesia & is confronted by his criminal past.



(radio play "No Blade Too Sharp"), (screenplay)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Vince Alexander
Nina Martin
Lieutenant Joe Williams
Sgt. Barrett
Charles Evans ...
Captain Anderson (as Charlie Evans)
Hazel Downs
Raymond Largay ...
Arthur Stacey, M.D.
Harry Bronson ...
Hal Baylor ...
Coke (as Hal Fieberling)
Jack Overman ...
Crane Whitley ...
Doctor Kemble / Off-Screen Narrator
John Harmon ...


A World War II veteran, suffering from amnesia but otherwise healthy, is released from a veteran's hospital, decides to return to Los Angeles to see if he can regain his identity. Trying to retrace his former steps he soon learns that he was a double-crossing gangster, and many people have reasons to wish he wasn't around...and some try to see to it that he isn't around very long...alive, at least. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


He's got a date ...with DEATH! See more »


Crime | Drama | Film-Noir


Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

22 April 1949 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Herr der Unterwelt  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In one scene, John Payne hitches a ride in a mortuary van from a place called "Green Acres". It's coincidental that the movie's cast includes Frank Cady and Percy Helton, who both appeared on the TV series of the same name. See more »


In one scene Nina orders a "Rob Roy" cocktail, and Eddie says "the same", but the waiter brings him instead a scotch with a water-back. See more »


Eddie Rice: [to Nina Martin] Keep your lights off and the motor running.
See more »


Jingle Bells
Written by James Pierpont
Arranged by Louis Forbes
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User Reviews

Organic Shrapnel In The Head.
23 March 2014 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

The Crooked Way is directed by Robert Florey and adapted to screenplay by Richard H. Landau from the Radio Play "No Blade Too Sharp" by Robert Monroe. It stars John Payne, Sonny Tufts, Ellen Drew, Rhys Williams, Harry Bronson and Hal Baylor. Music is by Louis Forbes and cinematography by John Alton.

World War II veteran Eddie Rice (Payne) is suffering from permanent amnesia after a piece of shrapnel was lodged in his brain. With no recollection of his past life, he heads off to the only place he has a link with, the army registration office in Los Angeles. No sooner does he arrive there he is picked up by the cops, and soon his past life slowly begins to piece together, and it doesn't make for good news at all…

The amnesia plot device is served up once again for a film noir make-over, with mixed results. As a story it just about registers as interesting, there's not nearly enough made of the premise, with much of Eddie's memory recollections a bit too convenient for comfortable dramatic purpose. The smart hook is that Eddie, now a genuine nice guy, begins to find out he was something of bad man, very much so, and there are plenty of people displeased with him. There's also some considerable violence dotted throughout, aggression is palpable, while lead cast performances are more than adequate for the material to hand.

However, on a visual level The Crooked Way is on a different planet to the screenplay. John Alton brings all his skills as a film noir cinematographer here, photographing the whole film through a noir kaleidoscope. Characters move through shadows and light, or are bathed in various dark reflections, with the interior sequences brilliantly adding an aura of mental fog. With Florey throwing his bit in the mix as well, with canted angles and isolated lighting of the eyes, it's a top draw noir of the film making style. Their work deserves a better story, but regardless, because of the tech quality and the safe nature of the premise, this has to be a comfortable recommendation to anyone interested in film noir. 7/10

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