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The Crooked Way
He's got a date ...with DEATH!
A war veteran suffering from amnesia, returns to Los Angeles from a San Francisco veterans hospital hoping to learn who he is and discovers his criminal past.
John Payne plays Eddie Rice, a WWII soldier who, after the war, is treated in a military hospital for amnesia. He can remember nothing of his life and is suggested that he return to Los Angeles, where the Army knows he enlisted, to see if anything there helps his memory. On his return however he is recognised as Eddie Riccardi,, a hoodlum, and finds out that the gangsters he had double-crossed want their revenge.
A ridiculous story that manages to carry off its unlikeliness, I really enjoyed the silliness of it all.
John Payne plays a gangster who's lost his memory in this generic crime/noir film; he's good in the harder edged scenes, but the rest of the time he comes off as a bit of a waxwork. Sonny Tufts (who looks a bit like Jack Palance here) is great as Payne's menacing ex-boss and is the best thing in the movie outside the cinematography, provided by the the great, great John Alton. Worth watching for Alton's work alone - otherwise not worth watching.
An entirely run of the mill amnesia B-noir
At least in Kino Lorber's new HD-mastered release, pretty unbeatable as a showcase for noir great John Alton's cinematography--which makes it a little surprising that the movie's not otherwise very noirish. It's a straightforward action thriller, that plays out not unlike a movie of more recent vintage, except with about 50 less killings. The hero's amnesia, for instance, is mostly inconsequential after the opening--it just explains why he used to be a bad guy and now he's a good guy. There are plenty of venetian blinds and shadows on display, but little of the mood that truly defines noir--that of encroaching doom. That was disappointing to me, but it still counts as yet another interesting effort for its little-known lead John Payne, best known for the thankless male lead in MIRACLE ON 34TH ST.
After spending several years at the end of WWII in a veteran's hospital due to a head injury causing memory loss, Eddie Rice (John Payne) is released and returns to Los Angeles to discover his past. He hardly takes a step out of Union Station before being picked up by the police, carted off to headquarters, informed he is actually gangster Eddie Riccardi, and advised to get out of town. His old friends in the rackets are no happier to see him, particularly Vince Alexander (Sonny Tufts) against whom he testified and helped send up the river for a year, and his wife Nina Martin (Ellen Drew) a former singer who now runs a gambling establishment (including other vices) for…
John Payne as an amnesiac looking for answers and finding noir oblivion while John Alton drowns the world in shadows. Strains credulity and empathy, but does so with considerable elan. Ideal co-feature: Antonioni's THE PASSENGER, another movie about a cipher finding and losing himself in the abyss of someone else's misplaced memories.
John Alton is the MAN, but this is a pretty forgettable, weirdly paced noir. If you want to watch a much better John Payne noir, just go with Kansas City Confidential. And if you'd like to watch a noir about amnesia, Somewhere in the Night is a superior film.
Not as cracking as other noirs I've seen with John Payne, but still fairly fun. The amnesiac finds out he was a hood plot, complete with sniveling stoolies, cackling gangsters, and troublesome dames. Payne's much more subdued for the most part, but Sonny Tufts shines as one of the more memorable villains of the genre.
Cinematographer John Alton is the real star here.
Generally uninteresting and lesser film noir with a silly amnesiac plot. John Alton's masterful lighting and composition make the film worth viewing.
What starts out as a 'C' grade movie with a doctor giving us the idiots guide to amnesia stating in a darkened room (?) " you can't remember a thing, your name. your address, who you are"..yes we get it, soon turns into a class film noir and by the half way mark things are really cooking. Cinematographer John Alton is on great form as he works around a small budget to give us some great shadow scenes and fine camera expertise. The head bad guy Vince Alexander and his big team of two henchmen intend to make sure that good guy Eddie Riccardi's return from the war will be his last. Great location shooting around downtown Los Angeles makes…
An entirely run of the mill amnesia B-noir
Robert Osborne introduced "The Crooked Way" on TCM as nothing special when it was first released but a particular favorite of film noir fans now. I count myself as one of those fans, but have to admit that I'm a bit perplexed as to what it is about this film that would cause it to stand out from any number of other perfectly serviceable films like it. The deep-shadow photography courtesy of John Alcott was another of the film's attributes pointed out specifically by Osborne, and it is indeed probably its best asset. As for the rest, it's standard-issue noir with John Payne in one of his tough-guy roles. Granted, standard-issue noir is fine with me, but there are countless other noirs I've liked more than this one.
A pretty run of the mill B-noir without a lot to offer other than its two central performances by the mild-mannered John Payne and the scene-chewing Sonny Tufts. Payne plays a war amnesiac returning to LA to face his criminal past without the memory of his actions, friends or foes. It picks up steam in its last half-hour, but it pretty much squanders its key plot device in the first act when the amnesia secret is discovered by all characters and the suspense of his puzzling search for identity ends.
This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
John Payne stars in Robert Florey's The Crooked Way (1949) as Eddie Rice, a WWII vet with permanent amnesia, due to a chunk of shrapnel in his skull, who returns from the war, back to his Los Angeles stomping grounds, only to find out that the cops don't like him, his friends don't like him, and his girl don't love him, and he needs to know why. Gorgeous B&W noir cinematography by John Alton with an excellent performance by Percy Helton as Petey.
A complete list of the films in John Grant's A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Film Noir: The Essential Reference Guide, an…