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The Crooked Way
The Crooked Way
Actors: John Payne, Sonny Tufts, Ellen Drew, Rhys Williams, Percy Helton
Director: Robert Florey
Genres: Action & Adventure, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
NR     2005     1hr 30min


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Movie Details

Actors: John Payne, Sonny Tufts, Ellen Drew, Rhys Williams, Percy Helton
Director: Robert Florey
Creators: John Alton, Frank Sullivan, Benedict Bogeaus, Richard H. Landau, Robert Monroe
Genres: Action & Adventure, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Crime, Classics, Mystery & Suspense
Format: DVD - Color,Full Screen - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 11/22/2005
Original Release Date: 04/22/1949
Theatrical Release Date: 04/22/1949
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 1hr 30min
Screens: Color,Full Screen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 3
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
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Movie Reviews

"I'm easy to do business with. You talk, you live."
Dave | Tennessee United States | 01/02/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Eddie Rice (John Payne) is a WWII veteran that's just been released out of the hospital. Because of a combat injury, he has complete amnesia. The only thing he knows is that he came from Los Angeles, so he goes to the city looking for someone, anyone, who might recognize him and help him unravel his past. Unfortunately, the first ones to recognize him are cops, who know him by another name, Eddie Riccardi, cold-blooded gangster. But they don't know that he's totally forgotten his notorious past. After being released by the cops, Eddie runs into his ex-wife, Nina (Ellen Drew) who's not too pleased to see him. The Eddie she knew was cruel and heartless, and of course she's very reluctant to believe his amnesia story. The next one to find out that "Eddie's back in town" is Eddie's former mob boss, Vince Alexander (Sonny Tufts). Vince is also upset that Eddie has returned, because Eddie had double-crossed him years ago and Vince has been waiting to get revenge ever since.

Because of the watchful eyes of the local cops and detectives, Vince sees that killing Eddie and getting away with it is impossible. So, he does the next best thing. He frames Eddie for the murder of a respected police officer, and before long Eddie (with plenty of angry cops looking for him) is wishing he'd just stayed at the hospital and left his past as a blank space. He finally convinces his ex-wife that his amnesia is genuine, and she finally decides to help him escape from the police as well as try to clear himself before his rediscovered life is brought to a tragic end. And while he's at it, Eddie sparks up a new romance with his ex-wife, who's very pleased with the "new" Eddie that`s kind and loving. With the cops closing in fast on Eddie, he bravely decides to take on Vince and his gang alone in a deserted building. Will the cops arrive in time to save Eddie, or will they find nothing but corpses filled with lead? Watch and find out!

1949's "The Crooked Way" is an obscure but highly enjoyable film noir, with some of the most stylish noir photography and lighting I've ever seen. This is because the cinematography was handled by the legendary John Alton, the most recognized and respected name in film noir cinematography. To be honest, I've never thought of John Payne as a great actor. However, with his gloomy, cynical personality and his frequent frowning, he was perfect for film noir, and appeared in several classics besides this one ("Kansas City Confidential", "Slightly Scarlet", "99 River Street", "Hell's Island"). With sharp dialogue, a well-crafted and fast-paced plot, and amazing cinematography, "The Crooked Way" is a great film noir that deserves a better reputation. Recently released on DVD by Geneon Entertainment, the picture quality is wonderful. The sound quality was only average, but considering the very low price of the DVD I have no complaints. If you enjoy classic noir films, then add this gem to your collection!"
Promising noir that sadly doesn't live up to its potential.
Dymon Enlow | 04/26/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)

"Sometimes you need more than an intriguing premise - a guy with amnesia learns he's a gangster with a lot of enemies - and excellent cinematography by John Alton (T-MEN, HE WALKED BY NIGHT) to make an entertaining movie. Based on the positive reviews I've read I had high hopes for this film, but it ended up the one middle-of-the-road review I saw (in "The Film Noir Bible") was the most accurate. This film has the makings of a minor noir classic, but it doesn't happen.

I didn't care for the main character; I felt no sympathy for him because he kept putting himself in harm's way. The female lead had no screen presence and the bad guy wasn't intimidating. I did enjoy the 40's street scenes. Any noir fan should at least watch it once, but I don't think the average film fan will care for it. Nice picture on the DVD though.

Also look for a brief appearance by the often uncredited Jack Overman (T-MEN, BRUTE FORCE, THE LONG NIGHT) as a hood in the scene where Eddie goes to the Golden Horn club.

A rare film noir...
Steve-O | Milford, CT USA | 11/28/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"finally available. The transfer is excellent (there are some cropping issues and it appears to be converted from PAL) especially for under 10 bucks! Every noir fan will love this one..."
A Unique Character Arc
William Hare | Seattle, Washington | 03/22/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)

"In movie story parlance a character arc is a significant development that dramatically changes the life pattern that individual is pursuing.

In the case of the 1949 film noir vehicle "The Crooked Way" John Payne, a former musical star at Twentieth-Century Fox opposite their popular blondes Alice Faye and Betty Grable, plays a returning veteran from World War Two. This was a familiar story element used in many late forties films, but this film involves a unique twist.

In Payne's case he suffers from amnesia and returns to Los Angeles to find out who he really is. The character arc involves the fact that, the more the viewer learns, the easier it becomes to realize that Payne was not one of the community's solid citizens. He was, in fact, one of the city's most prominent hoodlums.

The character arc involves the fact that the post-traumatic shock Payne is a thoroughly different man. His efforts are accordingly twofold, 1) to establish that he is now a decent man, and 2) to learn about those dark secrets of his past life and seek to rectify them while building on his new post-war existence.

Ellen Drew sustains a profound shock when she learns that Payne is truly a changed man. She was his former wife who soured on him and became involved with his rival a take-no-prisoners mobster played by Sonny Tufts. Tufts bears a physical resemblance to David Brian, who played gangland bosses in many films of the forties and fifties.

Whereas Drew changes her opinion of Payne when she sees that he is a different person than the selfish, plotting mobster she earlier knew, Tufts has a one-track mind throughout. A ruthless sociopath, for Tufts all roads lead to one objective - the elimination of Payne.

While this is not one of the more imaginative film noir efforts of the period from the standpoint of story, there are some pluses in this film. The three leads of Payne, Drew and Tufts dominate and interact superbly, generating dramatic sparks. Another plus is the excellent, brooding black and white photography of John Alton, one of the leading cinematographers of the post-war noir period, who weaves a fascinating tapestry of the Los Angeles of that period."