Plotting Against Self

Nazi gold is a fine draw in this crime thriller, that rare immediate post-WWII offering not to paint American soldiers in a perfect light. In this case, star Frank Lovejoy, cast as the villain who shot and killed friendly soldiers during a bid to raid goods while in Germany. A decade later, it’s a matter of getting him to admit it on German soil.

That creates the complex and messy story of deception. A love triangle and international cooperation – with Germans no less – set up Lovejoy to fail. He’s seemingly innocent at first, running a small burger hop with an addiction to gambling. That backstory is typical success post-military service, with his villainous side not yet obvious. All is soon exposed.

Lovejoy’s fine, but it’s the paring of Richard Denning and Mari Blanchard that make Crooked Web kick. Undercover as brother and sister, the two must keep up their charade to lure Lovejoy toward admission. Various quirks and unplanned near disasters add some dramatic excitement. How the pair think of excuses on the fly builds a capable pair of professional deceivers.

Crooked Web is an easy draw to those who served

The fear of being discovered begins in the second act, giving Crooked Web dramatic energy. Crooked Act toys with the audience at first until roles become clear. It’s a fun ploy for a bit.

Then Crooked Web falls into a routine. Set-up Lovejoy, find a way to not recover the hidden Nazi gold, keep Lovejoy in suspense. Draw out an admission of guilt by repetition, while losing a viewer to familiarity.

Critical is turning Lovejoy unlikable. His surface demeanor is affable, and he treats co-star Blanchard with respect. Then he willingly shoots an American soldier in the back via flashback. Suddenly, Crooked Web turns dramatically.

Both Lovejoy and Denning play veterans, split into two types of soldiers. One who never left duty, the other who spends a successful, privileged life on the questionable pursuit of gambling. At the end, Denning’s act leads to him to sign-up for service again. Lovejoy cowardly declines. Crooked Web is an easy draw to those who served, so although willing to depict an American soldier in negative light, Crooked Web finds thematic balance. Still, depicting western heroism with some prejudice, so near to the war, was unusual.


This is not 1080p. The display will read 1080p, but it’s not 1080p. Crooked Web’s source appears to be a DVD copy, transferred over to Blu-ray.

Gray scale is great – the lone positive. Black levels stand out with marvelous contrast, leading to stellar dimension. Shadow detail isn’t lost either, keeping density during multiple nighttime visits to a German graveyard.

Unfortunately, grain sticks out as blocky and chunky. Ancient MPEG-2 compression looked better when on Blu-ray. Here, the lack of resolution chokes the life from this image. Textural details disappear in the mass of blocking. Not a second of this looks equivalent to film, and this debut on Blu-ray is rendered pointless.


Capable DTS-HD wanes a little at peak treble. That’s uncommon though. Most of the mono effort reflects the era with fine dialog, tinny if natural in the analog sense.

Dynamics maintain clean lows. While compression ruins the video, if Crooked Way’s audio stems from a Dolby Digital source, it’s not audibly so.



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The Crooked Web
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A rare post-WWII drama depicting an American soldier in a negative light, The Crooked Web is a repetitive if thematically strong thriller.

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