The Crooked Way

The Crooked Way is a 1949 film noir crime film 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 cameraman John Alton.

The Crooked Way
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRobert Florey
Produced byBenedict Bogeaus
Screenplay byRichard H. Landau
Based onthe radio play No Blade Too Sharp
by Robert Monroe
Music byLouis Forbes
CinematographyJohn Alton
Edited byFrank Sullivan
Benedict Bogeaus Productions
La Brea Productions
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
  • April 22, 1949 (1949-04-22) (United States)
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited States


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.



When the film was released the film critic for The New York Times wrote, "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."[1] In the book 100 Film Noirs, Jim Hillier compares and contrasts the film to Somewhere in the Night. Hillier says that The Crooked Way benefited from its low budget by forcing the filmmakers to be more creative, which makes it the better film.[2]


  1. The New York Times. Film review, September 5, 1949. Accessed: July 9, 2013.
  2. Hillier, Jim (2009). 100 Film Noirs. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 59–60. ISBN 9781844575534.
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