The Crooked Sky

The Crooked Sky is a low budget 1957 black and white British melodrama/crime film, directed by Henry Cass from a story by Maclean Rogers and Charles F. Vetter.[1] The film stars Wayne Morris, Anton Diffring and Karin Booth.[2]

The Crooked Sky
UK quad poster
Directed byHenry Cass
Produced byRichard Gordon (uncredited)
Bill Luckwell (Executive)
Written byNorman Hudis
Based ona story by Maclean Rogers and Charles F. Vetter (as Lance Hargreaves)
StarringWayne Morris
Karin Booth
Anton Diffring
Music byWilfred Burns (uncredited)
CinematographyPhil Grindrod
Edited byPeter Mayhew
Amalgamated Productions
Luckwin Productions
Distributed byJ. Arthur Rank (UK)
Release date
November 1957
Running time
77 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom


American detective Mike Conlin (Wayne Morris), teams up with Scotland Yard to catch the villains behind a big counterfeiting ring. After the mysterious death of an American airline radio operator, the Yard suspect the operation may originate in the United States, and Conlin is brought over to help.

In London, £500,000 in counterfeit one-pound notes has been smuggled in by Tom Alanson (Guy Kingsley-Poynter), an American radio engineer for a freight line flying between England and the United States. He is in a gang of smugglers but goes to Scotland Yard but two gang members stab him to death. Yard Inspector "Mac" MacAuley (Bruce Seton) believes the forged notes come from the United States. Mac contacts the U.S. Treasury who assigns investigator Mike Conlin (Wayne Morris) to the case.

Mike suspects Alanson's freight line were involved in smuggling the counterfeit currency, subsequently, he flies to London. Mike posing as an efficiency expert, he meets radio engineer Sandra Hastings (Karin Booth), Alanson's fiancée, and sister of Bill Hastings (Sheldon Lawrence), another radio operator.

While searching woods near company headquarters, Mike witnesses the fatal shooting of another company employee. After revealing his true identity to the local police inspector, who has come to investigate the murder, Mike goes to London to consult with Mac and suggests that the fake currency might have been concealed in radio equipment removed after each flight. Later, at an illegal gambling club in London, Bill introduces Sandra to Frank Fraser (Anton Diffring), the club's operator and, unknown to her, the head of the counterfeit ring.

In private, Bill, whose involvement in the ring was to earn money to start his own charter company, tells Fraser he is concerned about the recent murders. After a gambler named Smith (Reginald Hearne), heavy in debt to Fraser, commits suicide, some counterfeit notes are found, along with a list of gambling clubs. The police begin to investigate Fraser while Mike continues to look for evidence.

Eventually, Bill warns Fraser about the new man, leading Fraser to assign two thugs to follow Mike. Sandra accuses Bill of being involved with Fraser's criminal activities. She also tells Mike about Fraser. Breaking intoFraser's house, Mike finds counterfeit pound notes in a desk drawer. Surprised by Fraser and his henchmen, Mike is taken to a wooded area to kill him, but Mike escapes.

When Fraser's girl friend, Penny (Colette Bartrop), takes several bundles of counterfeit notes to buy an expensive necklace, the money is traced back to Fraser. With Mac's help, Mike makes plans to round up the entire gang, and when Bill returns from the U.S., has him followed to Fraser's house. After Bill informs Fraser that the notes are still on the aircraft, Fraser is tipped off by one of his thugs that a police raid is imminent.

At gunpoint, Fraser orders Bill to take him to the air base and fly him out of the country. Upon learning that Bill did not take the notes to Fraser, Mike boards the aircraft to search for them. When Fraser and Bill arrive at the aircraft, Fraser shoots Mike in the shoulder, then orders Bill to fly to France, although Bill warns him that all airports will be closed to them.

Strapping on a parachute, in which the gang has been smuggling the currency, Fraser plans to jump from the aircraft and escape, unaware that the parachute has been altered to accommodate more counterfeit notes. Bill puts the aircraft on automatic pilot, attacks Fraser who falls out of the aircraft, but his parachute fails to open and Fraser plummets to his death.

Back on the ground, Mike assures Sandra and Bill that, due to Bill's actions in the air that day, it is unlikely that he will be prosecuted.


  • Wayne Morris as Mike Conlin
  • Karin Booth as Sandra Hastings
  • Anton Diffring as Frank Fraser
  • Bruce Seton as "Mac" MacAuley
  • Sheldon Lawrence as Bill Hastings
  • Richard Shaw as Williams
  • Colette Bartrop as Penny [N 1]
  • Seymour Green as Steve
  • Bill Brandon as Grange
  • Reginald Hearne as Smith
  • Frank Hawkins as Robson
  • Murray Kash as Lewis
  • Wally Peterson as Wilson
  • Guy Kingsley-Poynter as Tom Alanson
  • Robert Raglan as Senior Civil Servant
  • Robert Perceval as U.S. Treasury Official
  • Beryl Cooke as Landlady
  • Robert Hunter as Manager
  • Frank Henderson as Salesman
  • George Roderick as Inspector Hughes
  • Jack Taylor as Croupier
  • Howard Lang as Commissioner


The Crooked Sky began principal photography on 13 August 1956 at Merton Park Studios in London. Location shots were at Blackbushe Airport. [4]

The original cast included Tim Conway in the lead male role, who was replaced by Wayne Morris after Conway became ill.[5][N 2] The aircraft in The Crooked Sky were:


David Wright in his review for the website thought The Crooked Sky "has a few neat moments, but is pretty much filler" ;[8] while TV Guide called The Crooked Sky an "interesting British attempt to put an American-style, hard-boiled detective in their own yard, (it) even goes as far as naming the hero "Mike" instead of the usual "Geoffrey" or "Ronnie." [9]



  1. Although named Penny in the credits, Colette Bartrop is referred to as "Colette" (her real name) in the film.[3]
  2. Morris reprised the "rugged, two-fisted" hero he played in western films and crime dramas.[6]


  1. Weaver 2011, p. 18.
  2. "History: 'The Crooked Sky'." BFI, 2019. Retrieved: 12 August 2109.
  3. "Notes: 'The Crooked Sky' (1957)." (Turner Classic Movies), 2019. Retrieved: 12 August 2019.
  4. "Original print information: 'The Crooked Sky' (1957)." (Turner Classic Movies), 2019. Retrieved: 12 August 2019.
  5. "History: 'The Crooked Sky'." AFI, 2019. Retrieved: 12 August 2019.
  6. Maltin 1994, pp. 634–635.
  7. Santoir, Christian. "Review: 'The Crooked Sky' (1957)." Aeromovies, 21 June 2014. Retrieved: 12 August 2019.
  8. Wright, David. "Review: 'The Crooked Sky'.", 2019. Retrieved: 12 August 2019.
  9. "Review: 'The Crooked Sky'.", 2019. Retrieved: 12 August 2019.


  • Maltin, Leonard. Leonard Maltin's Movie Encyclopedia. New York: Penquin Books, 1994. ISBN 978-0-45227-058-9.
  • Weaver, Tom.The Horror Hits of Richard Gordon. Albany, Georgia: Bear Manor Media, 2011. ISBN 978-1-59393-641-9.
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