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Walk a Crooked Mile – 1948 Douglas
- Power past the absurd title if you admired Anthony Mann’s T-Men (1948) and are seeking out something similar (if admittedly a little lesser) and appreciate a good film noir.
- The production team from T-Men is back along with the strong-jawed leading man Dennis O’Keefe even if Mann is not. Reed Hadley is even here to provide the voice of God narration like T-Men or He Walked at Night. Like T-Men, this rooted as a docudrama with that narration—but it is propaganda. This is one of the first Cold War films (“he’s a fair painter”- “yeah, if there wasn’t so much red in his work”). It was shot on location in San Francisco and Los Angeles and that pays off. You can’t fake the street packed with people like this in a key chase scene.
- Instead of T-Men’s treasury agents, this is the FBI and Scotland Yard teaming up to catch the Soviet/Communists. Wicked character actor Raymond Burr is here sporting a Lenin-like goatee.
- O’Keefe’s character is introduced through a clever low angle shot through a lamp.
- It is a thoroughly absorbing spy film which turns into a mystery in the final half hour. It is a procedural: surveillance, phone taps, ultraviolet paintings with atomic formulas, fingerprints.
- At the 50-minute mark there is a creative little scene setting shot where the camera pulls back and rotates after starting with a closeup of the UV light.
- It is pure propaganda- but powerful- a little badass lady playing the landlord is getting beat up by the Soviets. She takes the beating, dies for her country and has a little “I am used to this sort of abuse where I come from which is why I left” in her Russian accent.
- Recommend but not in the top 10 of 1948