Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

THE CROOKED WAY

Percy Helton is roughed up by John Payne
















THE CROOKED WAY (1949). Director: Robert Florey.

Ex G.I. Eddie (John Payne) gets out of the hospital with a head full of shrapnel and a case of amnesia that the doctor tells him will never be cured. He goes to his home town and discovers that he turned state's evidence against a friend and associate, Vince (Sonny Tufts), who did a stretch in jail, and who is dying to get even with him. A strange woman named Nina (Ellen Drew) turns out to be his ex-wife, who claims he brutalized her. Vince has Eddie beaten up and tells him to leave town, then enlists Nina's aid in getting him to stay -- he's cooked up a scheme that might send Eddie up the river forever. The Crooked Way -- not to be confused with The Crooked Web  -- is a standard crime thriller with some good performances. It's only "originality" is the amnesia angle, and even that has been done before. Payne is quite credible as the confused, one-dimensional G.I.; Tufts is surprisingly good as the mob boss; Drew [Crime Doctor's Man Hunt] is competent; and Percy Helton nearly steals the picture as another typically weaselly character whom Eddie comes to for help and winds up roughing up at one point, even if he's half his age and twice his size [poor Percy!]. The picture would have us believe that amnesia can turn a criminal, jackal and wife-beater into a decent guy. Sure! One of director Florey's less interesting pictures.

Verdict: Percy helps liven things up, but not enough. **.

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