THE CROOKED WEB is a rather silly minor film noir, though it does have a bit of nifty location photography and a couple surprising plot twists in its favor.
Stan (Frank Lovejoy) is a low-key nice guy who runs a drive-in coffee shop and is in love with Joanie (Mari Blanchard), one of his carhops. Joanie's brother Frank (Richard Denning) shows up in town with a get-rich-quick scheme involving gold stolen and hidden away during WWII. Stan, who wants to persuade Joanie to marry him, is eager to buy in to the deal and make some fast money. Nothing, however, is quite what it seems.
There are a couple big plot twists in the first half hour or so of the movie which make it interesting, although the characters' reactions to certain things are confusingly inexplicable until their true histories and motivations are revealed. After that the movie bogs down in its elaborate plot and the fact that none of the characters are very appealing, nor are they very smart. A couple characters repeatedly risk disclosing their true identities, and their self-centered stupidity lessens their appeal. All in all, this is a fairly long 77 minutes despite featuring Frank Lovejoy, a favorite of mine.
One of the things that does make the movie worth seeing is Stan's fabulous drive-in. A review provided the info that the drive-in seen in the movie was actually called Stan's and was located in Hollywood. Here's a great photo.
The director of the film was Nathan Juran, whose films previously reviewed here include GUNSMOKE (1953), LAW AND ORDER (1953), and HIGHWAY DRAGNET (1954).
This was the last feature film written by Lou Breslow, who was best known as a comedy writer.
THE CROOKED WEB is available on DVD in the Sony Choice MOD line as a single title or as part of the five-film Film Noir Collection, Volume 1. Among the other films in the set is THE CASE AGAINST BROOKLYN (1958), reviewed here last May.
THE CROOKED WEB can also be rented from ClassicFlix.