The Crooked Web

Released Nov. 30, 1955: THE CROOKED WEB, starring Frank Lovejoy, Mari Blanchard, and Richard Denning. Directed by Nathan Juran (Highway Dragnet, The Deadly Mantis, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad). Frank Lovejoy owns a diner and is sweet on one of his car-hops (Mari Blanchard). One day, her brother (Richard Denning) TheCrookedWebarrives unexpectedly and drops hints about an illicit deal in Europe he’s involved in that will score a huge amount of money. Lovejoy, who is attracted by any money-making scheme that doesn’t involve work, becomes interested and wants in, especially since Blanchard has made it clear she won’t even consider marrying him unless he can provide for her in style. But all is not as it seems. Unbeknownst to Lovejoy, Denning and Blanchard are not brother and sister, but are actually lovers engaged to be married, and are part of an elaborate plot to bring Lovejoy to justice for a murder he committed in Germany shortly after WWII. The plot is sponsored by the murder victim’s father and involves the German police and other authorities. The goal is to entice Lovejoy to come to Germany and present enough evidence to arrest him for the murder. It’s a promising setup, but unfortunately, the story deteriorates rapidly from there. Once in Germany, the trio embarks on a staged adventure to acquire valuable artifacts that were supposedly stolen and buried during the war. They are forced to keep changing their approach due to various obstacles and delays, some of which are intentionally prearranged. But it’s not always clear which obstacles are planned and which are spontaneous, making the logic of the story difficult to follow. What’s worse, it’s never explained how this convoluted quest for fake stolen artifacts will help bring Lovejoy to justice for murder, so the last half of the film becomes an aimless mess of contrived circumstances with very little holding them together, all of which results in a rather anti-climactic ending. This second-rate B-noir has a decent enough cast and an interesting premise, but is ultimately torpedoed by an ill-conceived and poorly executed story. We give The Crooked Web 1.5 out 5 fedoras.

1.5 Fedoras

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