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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Drive A Crooked Road (1954)

A lonely mechanic and amateur racing car driver (Mickey Rooney) is lured into driving the getaway car for a bank robbery by the mistress (Dianne Foster) of the mastermind (Kevin McCarthy) behind the heist. But when the mechanic falls for her, she begins to feel guilty about using him. This taut little slice of L.A. noir, directed by Richard Quine (BELL BOOK AND CANDLE) from a screenplay by Blake Edwards, is a real sleeper featuring career best performances by much of the cast. Certainly Rooney has never been better, giving his scarred (literally) loner a poignant pathos. Similarly, the undervalued Dianne Foster (who deserved a better career) goes beyond the usual cold hearted noir femme fatale, giving a layered performance of a woman taken aback by her own unexpected conscience. The movie is character driven and less interested in whether they will get away it, the heist is done off screen, as much as what will Rooney do when he finds out he's been manipulated. The open ending leaves the future of its protagonists unclear. With Jack Kelly (again, his best work), Peggy Maley, Paul Picerni and Mort Mills.

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