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William D. Russell
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 <email@example.com>
The Crooked Way an independent production released by United Artists finds John Payne in the role of an amnesiac who makes his way to Los Angeles with a different name and no memories of what he did before the war injuries. He got a silver star for service, but that tells him nothing of his past before World War II.
It turns out that he was a gangster who doublecrossed a confederate played by Sonny Tufts who took a prison rap for a couple of years in which time Payne left Los Angeles. Payne also finds the woman he was married to, Ellen Drew who pretty much repudiates him and who he was and now is. Of course that changes over the course of the film.
This film was Payne's introduction to the noir genre and it's all right, though not as good as later films like Kansas City Confidential and The Boss. Payne's career paralleled that of Dick Powell who had given up musicals for noir and action films a bit earlier.
The real revelation in The Crooked Way was Sonny Tufts who at Paramount in the Forties played leads that exuded a kind of goofy charm to them. He was outstanding in his part as the villain of The Crooked Way. He might have overacted a bit, but the part did call for it. He should have reinvented himself with this film, but his career would be petering out gradually during the Fifties.
The story has things wrapping up just a tad too neatly for Payne in the end, still Payne definitely showed he had a career in noir with The Crooked Way.
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