The Crooked Way

The Crooked Way
The Crooked Way

Theatrical poster
Directed by Robert Florey
Produced by Benedict Bogeaus
Written by Screenplay:
Richard H. Landau
Robert Monroe
Starring John Payne
Sonny Tufts
Ellen Drew
Music by Louis Forbes
Cinematography John Alton
Editing by Frank Sullivan
Distributed by United Artists
Release date(s) April 22, 1949
Running time 90 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Crooked Way (1949) is a black-and-white film noir directed by Robert Florey. The film was based on a radio play No Blade Too Sharp and features John Payne, Sonny Tufts, Ellen Drew, and others. The film, with a similar plot (a war hero loses his memory stateside) to another film noir Somewhere in the Night, was shot by noted cameraman John Alton.[1]



After sustaining a head wound in combat, decorated World War II veteran Eddie Rice (John Payne) is treated at a San Francisco military hospital for a permanent form of amnesia. This leaves him with no knowledge of his life, family and friends prior to his enlistment, a void that the army intelligence unit was unable to fill as they couldn't find any information about him, other than the fact he enlisted in Los Angeles. Doctors tell him that no medical cure exists for his case, but that if he returns to Los Angeles he might run into people who know him and could help him fill in the blanks. Rice follows this advice and he promptly runs into people who recognize him. However, he is recognized not as Eddie Rice, but as Eddie Riccardi, a dangerous gangster gone missing, whose past behavior generates mistrust among the police and all those who knew him in the past. Furthermore, ruthless crime boss Vince Alexander (Sonny Tufts), who was betrayed by Eddie before he left the town, is now out for revenge.


  • John Payne as Eddie Rice aka Eddie Riccardi
  • Sonny Tufts as Vince Alexander
  • Ellen Drew as Nina Martin
  • Rhys Williams as Lieutenant Joe Williams
  • Percy Helton as Petey
  • John Doucette as Sgt. Barrett
  • Charles Evans as Captain Anderson
  • Greta Granstedt as Hazel Downs
  • Raymond Largay as Arthur Stacey, M.D.
  • Harry Bronson as Danny
  • Hal Baylor as Coke
  • Don Haggerty as Hood
  • Jack Overman as Hood
  • Crane Whitley as Doctor Kemble / Off-Screen Narrator
  • John Harmon as Kelly
  • Garry Owen as Man from Green Acres Mortuary

Critical reception

Film critic Dennis Schwartz discussed the noir aspects of the film, and wrote, "A minor film noir, originally made for radio. Its motif, about how someone can attempt to change his dismal past after getting amnesia, is a purely noir theme...Nina and Eddie desperately want to fit into postwar American society despite their prior misdeeds. The camerawork of probably the best film noir cinematographer ever, John Alton, captures the dark streetlife of LA. What leaves a lasting impression is the warehouse shoot-out, as we see these antisocial types trapped like rats. The darkness of Vince's past and current life is contrasted with the John Payne character who has a second chance to redeem himself, something noir characters think is impossible to ever get. That is the happy ending, but its optimism is muted. There's always the possibility he will revert back to his old self. It all seems credible, even though we know that this story is a highly improbable one. Throughout the film, John Payne has the look of someone who has just come out of a laundry washing machine and by the film's end is being hung out to dry."[2]

See also


  1. ^ The Crooked Way at the Internet Movie Database.
  2. ^ Schwartz, Dennis. Ozus' World Movie Reviews, film review, January 10, 2000. Last accessed: April 2, 2008.

External links

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