Saturday, October 24, 2020

Movie Reviews: Drive A Crooked Road

Drive A Crooked Road
directed by Richard Quine

This 1954 film noir wasn't super exciting. It was a little predictable all in all. But it did feature a pretty nice piece of acting from Mickey Rooney. The diminutive Rooney's height was an important part of the story. It was sobering to watch this movie and realize that actors that I only remembered as older or even elderly were young and vital once. 
Time doesn't wait around for anyone. 
I thought that there were some subplots that were either never fully developed or just cut out prematurely. The film is short but somehow manages the dubious feat of simultaneously feeling rushed and ponderous.
But as mentioned, Rooney's acting carries the film. If this film were to be remade today it would likely be more explicit which in this case, would be a good thing. Everything was implied in this film, which might have been why I felt certain portions of it dragged.
Eddie Shannon (Rooney) is an amateur race car driver and professional auto mechanic. Eddie knows all there is to know about cars. When he's behind the wheel of an automobile or tinkering with one, he's self-assured and poised. Otherwise Eddie's a depressed schlub. Eddie's especially shy and reticent around women. 

When his co-workers go into full wolf mode, hooting and hollering at any attractive women they happen to see and telling each other what they would do to or with the lucky object of their desire, Eddie just sits quietly eating his lunch. 
Eddie has no wife and no girlfriend. He never comes into work on Monday bragging about his weekend romantic adeventures. No one has ever seen Eddie with a woman. Eddie's small stature and apparent lack of success with or more ominously disinterest in women cause him to become the object of persistent disrespect and subtle bullying from most of his co-workers. One guy stands up for Eddie but he's not always around.
It's strange then when a curvaceous leggy woman named Barbara Matthews (Dianne Foster) comes into the repair shop and asks for Eddie by name. She needs some help getting her motor running. Yes indeed. Before too long Barbara is asking Eddie to join her at the beach, take her to parties, and giving him that look. But she never seems ready to close the deal, not that Eddie even has the confidence to try. Eddie can't understand what a woman like Barbara sees in him.
But Barbara does introduce Eddie to two of her friends, the solicitous Steve Norris (Kevin McCarthy) and the saturnine Harold Baker (Jack Kelly). Both men are very interested in Eddie's driving skills and his dream of racing in Europe. They get into long conversations with Eddie about cars, which are now, after Barbara, the second most important thing in Eddie's life. And they make Eddie a proposition.
Drive A Crooked Road was a bit formulaic, but it did adequately and oft sympathetically display how loneliness and desperation can lead people astray. 
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