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Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Cafe owner Stan Fabian joins Joanie Daniel and her "brother" Frank in a scheme to unearth a "fortune in stolen gold buried by Frank" in Germany during World War II, and Stan is unaware that Joanie and Frank are undercover agents trying to get a confession from Stan of a murder he committed in Germany. Joanie plays on Stan's love for her, insisting he join the Army and so gain access to the supposed hidden treasure , buried in what is now a U.S. Army reservation. Entrapment is the word used now. Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Drive-in restaurant owner Stan Fabian and his car-hop girlfriend (Frank Lovejoy and Mari Blanchard) become involved in a scheme to recover stolen loot when the girlfriend's brother (Richard Denning) unexpectedly arrives in town. Her brother offers Stan half of his share of a heist he pulled off while in the Army in WWII if Stan will travel back to Germany with him to help retrieve the buried gold. Complications and a few surprising turn of events arise along the way.
This low budget crime drama starts off promisingly enough but quickly fizzles out under the strained believability of the plot and characters. It was directed by Nathan Juran with a decidedly disinterested feel. Juran was a director who was capable of doing some decent low budget pictures like Gunsmoke and Highway Dragnet. Juran just didn't breath much life into this one. All of the principals struggle with their character identities. The script has Lovejoy who was at his best as a tough guy with a hard edge, walking around through most of the movie in an impatiently perplexed way, seemingly oblivious to what most people would consider obvious. His role seems to pivot around implausible reactions to Denning's character for the sole purpose of making it possible to move on to the next scene. Blanchard's character lacks any dimension or believability. It makes it hard to figure out why even the perennially perplexed Lovejoy would be willing to risk so much for a stick figure character with such head-scratchingly odd reactions and shifting motivations. The script moves from one contrived situation stacked upon another contrived situation in order to reach the end.
The Crooked Web has recently been released on Film Noir DVD packages. It's part of the current marketing ploy of repackaging black and white 1950's crime dramas and labeling them as Film Noir. While it does have a noir influence, it's a garden variety, double feature, crime B-flick. Anybody looking for the next undiscovered gem in the mold of "Double Indemnity" or "Out of the Past" should keep on looking because this isn't it.
Both Juran and the cast had better days then what we see here. Other than some early on interesting exterior shots of 1950's L.A. there isn't a lot to recommend in this one.
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