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The Crooked Way (1949)

Passed  -  Crime | Drama | Film-Noir  -  22 April 1949 (USA)
6.8
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 509 users  
Reviews: 27 user | 5 critic

War hero recovers from amnesia & is confronted by his criminal past.

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(radio play "No Blade Too Sharp"), (screenplay)
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Title: The Crooked Way (1949)

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Cast

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

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

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Film-Noir

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

22 April 1949 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Herr der Unterwelt  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

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 »

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User Reviews

 
Two Johns (Payne and Alton) make obscure amnesiac-veteran noir worth reviving
21 July 2002 | by (Western New York) – See all my reviews

One measure of The Crooked Way's obscurity may be that the only copy I could track down was subtitled – in Hebrew. That obscurity is puzzling, because the movie is, if not a superior, certainly an above-average entry in the noir cycle. It boasts John Payne as its star, but before Phil Karlson groomed him into an archetypal noir protagonist. What's more, none other than John Alton was cinematographer, casting his customary shadowy spell; while he doesn't scale the dark peaks he did in collaboration with Anthony Mann, he makes French-born director Robert Florey's film look very good – very ominous – indeed.

But The Crooked Way stays eclipsed by a movie of three years earlier eerily close in theme and milieu, Somewhere in the Night, starring John Hodiak. Hodiak and Payne both play amnesiac veterans trying to reconstruct their troubling pasts in journeys through the underbelly of Los Angeles.

In The Crooked Way, Payne, having won a Silver Star but lost his memory, gets discharged from a veterans' hospital and heads `home;' that he hails from L.A. is all he knows about himself. But at Union Station, two police detectives meet him, calling him Eddie Riccardi (so far as he knows, he's Eddie Rice). Five years earlier, as it turns out, Payne worked for mob boss Sonny Tufts, whom he set up then fled to the Army; he was married to Ellen Drew, also connected to the syndicate. Ultimately, Payne finds himself hounded by the police and beaten by the mob, then framed for murder. He's running for his life and out of people he's told he can rely on....

Payne, with his brooding eyes and impassive visage, makes a more convincing vet and victim than Hodiak, but, apart from that, the story gets told conventionally. That raspy-voiced gnome Percy Helton scuttles around as one of Tufts' eye-and-ear operatives, and Drew gets some tough moments in strapless gowns (though inevitably, when her character softens, she goes bland). Still, it's a solid noir that deserves rehabilitation – if for no other reason than that it preserves Alton's precious photography.


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