Movie review – Walk A Crooked Mile (1948)

What did you watch: G-Man procedural propaganda “Walk A Crooked Mile”

How overt was the propaganda? Soviets watching were probably taking notes and hopefully warded off from stealing our atomic secrets.

A few weeks ago I wrote about The Strange Woman and one of its stars Louis Hayward. In this movie, Louis is a visiting agent from the UK who teams up with Dennis O’Keefe (whom we saw in Chicago Syndicate), an FBI agent to figure out how secrets are getting out of an atomic weapons think tank. The two try to keep a watchful eye on a team of five scientists who are treated like rock stars in the cold war, or at least by the government. They’re especially suspicious of two fo the foreign scientists, who must know that everyone can see what kind of romantic relationship they’re having.

This comes after some cat & mouse chasing where the two trail one possible foreign spy to another in a desperate attempt to trace back the secret-stealing to its source, started when one of Dennis’ fellow agents is gunned down after trying to call in a tip. I completely forgot about this after the first viewing. The movie is actually a pretty wild ride of procedure and action, ending in a gun battle between the two and various Soviet archetype spies (led by Raymond Burr). It’s not a noir movie, it’s pretty boring in places, the narration is overbearing with its over the top deliver (think Ed Wood in Plan 9 From Outer Space). The narrator reminds us more of anything of how important it is to stop those damn commies. I mean, let Dennis and Louis’ work show that, narrator.

But despite it not being a noir film, it’s a great looking crime (propaganda) movie with amazing uses of darkness and few sources of light on its actors. Sometimes these films don’t make it to being digitized in their original glory so it was nice to see a version of this older movie still look so well, and 90% of the reason to give it a shot. The other 10% is the team trying to figure out how the commies do their deeds in late 40’s San Francisco. It’s interesting, a spy movie should have intrigue, but maybe they knew they’d need to sell it on an action blowout as opposed to the gaps, covered by narration, that could have used more of Louis Hayward and Dennis O’Keefe working together and figuring it out.

I don’t have much else to say – a pretty good cold war movie with no ambiguity or question about who the bad guys are, looks really good, some tense moments but with suspense undermined by the narration.

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