Thursday, November 12, 2015

Walk a Crooked Mile (1948)

** out of 5

"He could be a fine painter."
"Yes, if there wasn't so much Red in his work."

Gordon Douglas directed the film.  The cast is filled with notable noir names: Louis Heyward,
Dennis O'Keefe, Louis Albritton, Raymond Burr, Philip Van Zandt, Art Baker.  It's a shame, then, that the docu-noir format of the script gives them all too little to work with toward to objective of creating dimensional characters.

George Bruce, who wrote the screenplay, also scripted the similarly docu-drama Kansas City Confidential, but mostly did second-tier swashbuckler stories and a couple westerns prior to this. A highlight of his early writing career was the boxing drama The Crowd Roars (1938), which was later remade as the Mickey Rooney starring film Killer McCoy(1947).

This documentary style noir was a popular trend around this time, with numerous examples, all narrated by Reed Hadley, include: He Walked by Night (1948), Canon City (1948), The Iron Curtain (1948), T-Men (1947), Boomerang (1947), 13 Rue Madelaine (1947), and the film with which it has most in common, The House on 92nd Street (1945). In fact, the plot uses essentially the same structure as that 5th-Columnist spy story.  Unfortunately, it takes too long to get to the exciting elements of the story that could have provided suspense, drama, and human connection to the characters.  Things don't really even get interesting until some 45 minutes into the film, and by then, it's too late to develop any real audience interest-  assuming they're still watching.

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