The Crooked Way

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The Crooked Way
The Crooked Way.JPG
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Robert Florey
Produced by Benedict Bogeaus
Screenplay by Richard H. Landau
Based on the radio play No Blade Too Sharp 
by Robert Monroe
Starring John Payne
Sonny Tufts
Ellen Drew
Music by Louis Forbes
Cinematography John Alton
Edited by Frank Sullivan
Benedict Bogeaus Production
Distributed by United Artists
Release dates
  • April 22, 1949 (1949-04-22) (United States)
Running time 90 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Crooked Way is a 1949 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.



Critical response[edit]

When the film was released the film critic for The New York Times is notable for its moralistic tone of the review. The critic writes, "The Crooked Way races along as a melodrama should and it has more than enough plot to keep its hard-working actors going from one dangerous situation to another. But there is so much pointless brutality in it that one may seriously question whether the movie people are wise to go on with the making of such pictures. The human family may not be perfect, but why subject it to so-called entertainment that is only fit for savage beasts."[2]

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 ... The camerawork of probably the best film noir cinematographer ever, John Alton, captures the dark street life 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."[3]


  1. ^ The Crooked Way at the Internet Movie Database.
  2. ^ The New York Times. Film review, September 5, 1949. Accessed: July 9, 2013.
  3. ^ Schwartz, Dennis. Ozus' World Movie Reviews, film review, January 10, 2000. Last accessed: April 2, 2008.

External links[edit]