Friday, July 23, 2010

Tonight's Movie: Walk a Crooked Mile (1948)

The familiar booming voice of narrator Reed Hadley quickly identifies WALK A CROOKED MILE as an FBI "procedural" film in the style of THE HOUSE ON 92ND STREET (1945) and other titles of that film noir subgenre.

WALK A CROOKED MILE finds Los Angeles FBI agent Daniel O'Hara (Dennis O'Keefe) teaming with Scotland Yard agent Scotty Grayson (Louis Hayward) to break an international case regarding espionage and stolen top secret nuclear information. The trail leads to San Francisco, where O'Hara and Grayson face grave danger dealing with murderous Soviet agents who will stop at nothing to get the formula.

The movie is a solid, well-paced effort which provides interesting glimpses of the era in which it was made. By today's standards the depiction of Americans versus the Communists may seem slightly overwrought or cartoonish at times, but the film also effectively conveys the fears and genuine concerns of the early Cold War era.

I always find the "early CSI" law enforcement techniques depicted in such films fascinating, and this movie is no exception.  Along with the one-way mirrors and hidden cameras seen in THE HOUSE ON 92ND STREET, WALK A CROOKED MILE provides some interesting glimpses of other equipment used to uncover secret messages.

O'Keefe is convincing as the businesslike FBI agent, and the genial Hayward livens things up a bit as the emissary from Scotland Yard. The bad guys include Raymond Burr and Frank Ferguson. Louise Allbritton, Carl Esmond, Onslow Stevens, and Philip Van Zandt are also in the cast.

WALK A CROOKED MILE was directed by Gordon Douglas. It was filmed in black and white by Edward Colman and George Robinson. The movie runs 91 minutes.

WALK A CROOKED MILE does not appear to be available on DVD or VHS. It's a Columbia film which has been shown on Turner Classic Movies.

May 2013 Update: WALK A CROOKED MILE will be released on DVD this summer from the TCM Vault Collection.

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