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The Crooked Way (1949)

John Payne , Sonny Tufts , Robert Florey  |  NR |  DVD
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: John Payne, Sonny Tufts, Ellen Drew, Rhys Williams, Percy Helton
  • Directors: Robert Florey
  • Writers: Richard H. Landau, Robert Monroe
  • Producers: Benedict Bogeaus
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Geneon [Pioneer]
  • DVD Release Date: November 22, 2005
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000BGH2HC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #128,437 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Crooked Way" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

John Payne plays Eddie Rice, a wounded war veteran who has lost his memory. As he heads to Los Angeles to try and figure out his identity , two police detectives arrest him. Turns out he is really Eddie Riccardi, a former employee of the notorious mob boss Sonny Tufts. No one, especially his ex-wife, seems happy to see Eddie again. When he is framed for murder, he must find the real killer and clear his name by navigating through the crooked underbelly of Los Angeles.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
57 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "I'm easy to do business with. You talk, you live." January 1, 2006
By Dave
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.
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23 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
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.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Unique Character Arc March 22, 2007
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.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
"The Crooked Way" is a minor film noir from 1949 with a familiar premise. Eddie Rice (John Payne) is a World War II veteran who has been in a rehabilitation hospital in San Francisco due to amnesia. A piece of shrapnel imbedded in his brain has caused him to loose all memory of his life and identity. Army records say only that he is Eddie Rice from Los Angeles. So he goes to Los Angeles in hopes that someone will recognize him, and someone does. Two police officers stop him at the train station and take him in for questioning. They say he is Eddie Ricardi, a gangster who ratted out his colleague Vince Alexander (Sonny Tufts) to save himself before skipping town 5 years ago. His ex-wife Nina Martin (Ellen Drew) also recognizes Eddie and rings Vince to say he's back in town.

"The Crooked Way" was based on a radio play called "No Blade Too Sharp" and directed by Robert Florey. The cinematographer is John Alton. The print I watched is very high contrast, to the point that shadows are often completely black. I don't know if the contrast on that print or transfer might be too high, but, as Alton is famous for not caring about detail in shadows, I'm inclined to think this is just a very high contrast film, like the great T-Men. In any case, this is a classic scenario of a man with no memory trying to discover himself, only to discover that he was not a good guy. He cannot recapture his memory or escape his past. It's reminiscent of the 1946 film noir Somewhere in the Night, a more iconic film that takes itself less seriously.

John Payne is tall, handsome, and tough as Eddie Rice, but he isn't given a lot to do.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Minor noir elevated by cinematography and acting.
This tense noir stars John Payne as a WWII veteran who is released from a hospital suffering from an extreme case of amnesia. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Smrz
5.0 out of 5 stars JOHN PAYNE'S PAIN!!!
John Payne's Eddie Rice (aka Riccardi) got some shrapnel embedded into his head during WW2 and now he can't remember anything about his past or who he even is. Read more
Published on August 8, 2012 by Richard J. Oravitz
4.0 out of 5 stars crooked way, the
I see that Amazon has only one of these Geneon editions of the Crooked Way left. I also know that Geneon is no longer printing the title. Hence I bought 2. Read more
Published on March 9, 2012 by tonedoggie
4.0 out of 5 stars Despite a too-straight script, this noir works thanks to actors &...
Amnesia is one of the staples - even cliches - of film noir, and it is often used brilliantly, especially in the short-term variety brought on by alcohol or knocks on the head... Read more
Published on November 7, 2010 by Muzzlehatch
4.0 out of 5 stars AW, IT'S BETTER THAN THAT!
I liked this much more than the other reviewers. I put off watching it for a long time because of the amnesia angle. It's such a tired premise. Read more
Published on October 22, 2010 by Dr. Pretorius
4.0 out of 5 stars Ya Hadda Be There-
The film has all the production features of a first rate movie. Chiaroscuro Black and White, sharply etched images, beautifully modeled characters. Read more
Published on November 9, 2009 by drkhimxz
4.0 out of 5 stars Great little Noir movie !!
This great Film Noir movie is a hidden gem and I am glad I got it !
John Payne is the classic noir guy and wish he had made more !!
Published on February 10, 2008 by Brad Lloyd
3.0 out of 5 stars Tje John Payne "Way"!
Nice noir effort with former musical comedy star, John Payne. He always comes thru nicely in his various noir classics. Read more
Published on December 12, 2007 by Bill Ford Interiors, Inc.
2.0 out of 5 stars Noir boor
Personally, as a child, the room I was staying with my mother was used in the film. My babysitter recalls that John Payne was a real snob. Read more
Published on October 20, 2007 by Alfred J. Quiroz
4.0 out of 5 stars An okay noir with great John Alton style and that odd, unnerving...
If you believe that noir is a style more than a genre and that you'll recognize the style as soon as you see it, you'll have The Crooked Way pegged ten minutes in. Read more
Published on June 30, 2007 by C. O. DeRiemer
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