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  • Is there such a thing as a male weeper? Bang The Drum Slowly certainly belongs, as do parts of The Knute Rockne Story (`Let's win this one for the Gipper!'). Probably the whole athlete-dying-young genre does for men what Stella Dallas did for women. Another candidate for inclusion is Drive A Crooked Road, a 1954 noir starring Mickey Rooney.

    Rooney's abbreviated stature helped keep him in pictures as America's oldest teen-ager. But once he hit 30, it was inevitable that adult roles should come his way. As the noir cycle was in full swing, that's where he landed. In The Strip and Quicksand, he still managed to pass as a stripling. By the time of this movie, however, he was well into his 30s, with broad hits of chubbiness settling into his face and midriff. He was still the star, not yet relinquished to character roles, though it was unclear how to handle him. So he became a misfit – a `freak.'

    He's an awkward, lonely auto mechanic with dreams of driving someday in the Grand Prix – dreams he knows won't come true. With one exception, his fellow mechanics tease him mercilessly, especially about his lack of sexual experience. One day an unattainable woman (Dianne Foster) gives him the big eye, and he succumbs, however tentatively at first. (His ache for her is palpable when she plays hard to get, as he tosses on his rooming-house bed with his few racing trophies now emblems of hollow triumph). But she's just a cat's-paw for her real boyfriend, Kevin McCarthy, living the high life in his beach-house bachelor pad; he's planning to knock over a bank in Palm Springs and needs Rooney as his daredevil driver. With Foster's increasingly reluctant urging, Rooney signs on....

    The resolution, of course, is the falling out of thieves; a large portion of the plot was to be echoed, 10 years later, in Don Siegel's remake of The Killers. Though the robbery and escape should have been the centerpiece, or at least the central set-piece, of the movie, here it seems curiously perfunctory (these comments are based on viewing a version some minutes short of recorded running times, however). But the movie's staying power lies in Rooney's portrayal of the dupe, the victim – all the more memorable for being so understated.
  • I saw this one at the theater, as a kid, when it came out. I have searched for a VHS copy of this one for years, and finally came across it recently on the internet. It is no wonder that this one stayed with me for so long. This is without a doubt Mickey Rooney's best movie as an adult. It would seem that after the war and the Andy Hardy series wound down that Mick was having a difficult time finding his niche in Hollywood. He did score very well with "Quicksand"(1950)but in this one he pulls out all the stops. Constantly he is referred to as "the little freak" and several comments are made concerning his manhood, or lack thereof. We slowly watch as Mick is played off by the gangster's moll, lured into the web of robbery and deceit; this is NOT a pretty movie. The movie builds slowly to an unforgettable, unexpected climax. Still a great movie after almost 50 years!
  • Drive A Crooked Road was a great performance by Mr. Mickey Rooney. I'm never ceased to be amazed by this man's talents. As a child I used to watch his films and he always amazed me then and always will. I recently discovered this classic gem and is one of the best performances of Mr. Rooney's. Mickey Rooney always gives a good performance. Mickey Rooney plays an auto mechanic who is framed by the girl he thinks loves him. Mickey Rooney did a lot of great film noir in the 50's. For other great Rooney 1950's performances check out Baby Face Nelson, The Big Operator, The Last Mile (an amazing performance by Rooney.) You will not be disappointed.
  • In his youth, and in particular his heyday over at MGM, Mickey Rooney would practically do cartwheels through his roles - he was that high energy. However, he was capable of something more than playing the energetic optimistic young man of pre-war America, and this film and 1950's Quicksand are probably the best examples of what that something was.

    Here he plays auto mechanic Eddie Shannon that also does some race car driving. A mob of thieves take note of his talent behind the wheel at the race track and the gang leader's girl (Dianne Foster as Barbara) flirts with Eddie and gets him to believe that she loves him. Then the thieves lower the boom on him - they proposition him to drive their getaway car during a bank robbery in return for 15000 dollars. The reason that Eddie is so needed is that the road between the bank and the main highway past the point where any road blocks would be requires fast driving over what amounts to unpaved desert terrain. Eddie's an honest guy, willing to wait and work for the things he wants, but Barbara is holding out the need for this quick money as a condition of their relationship continuing, so he gives in and agrees to the robbery plan. To him, Barbara is his treasure, not any amount of money that he could land. Little does he know she's fool's gold.

    Rooney is convincing as the little guy who takes it on the chin from a verbally abusive coworker at the garage who - like all bullies - doesn't seem to realize that high school is at least ten years behind him. Without saying much you can tell Rooney's character Eddie is a guy that has come to have low expectations of life, not so much abused as he is ignored and invisible to the opposite sex, and is surprised when a beautiful girl takes notice of him. Things are getting out of hand for Barbara too, as she feels deep remorse for using Eddie. Kudos also go to Kevin McCarthy and Jack Kelly as the two thieves. McCarthy's character has a very thin veneer of charm painted over what appears to be a soul of pure evil. When he kisses a rather apathetic Barbara and doesn't like her lack of enthusiasm, he warns her to never kiss him like that again in a way that will give you goosebumps. Jack Kelly's character is more of an all out wild man. You can just tell that he considers violence the most amusing pastime on earth.

    I'd recommend this one for Rooney's performance, but I'd downgrade this one just a little bit on lost opportunities for what could have been some fine action shots during the bank robbery scene and the getaway thereafter.
  • As other reviewers point out, America's favorite little guy was at a career crossroads at this point (1953). All in all, this downbeat low-budget caper film was a gutsy choice for MGM's former golden boy. Not only is Rooney's Eddie Shannon a rather pathetically repressed and vulnerable nobody, but the script stays entirely within that character, allowing Rooney none of his usual assertive (and often annoying) antics. The result is perhaps the biggest departure of his career, and also perhaps the most moving.

    The film itself is a good one, benefiting from unfamiliar Southern Cal locations, excellent acting from a number of up-&-comers, Jack Kelly , Kevin McCarthy, et al., and a plausible script. As a caper film, it's inferior to the best ones of that decade (The Asphalt Jungle, The Killing, etc.), but as an account of one man's sad and lonely plight (never a Hollywood biggie), it holds its own with the best of them, thanks to Rooney.
  • Hell hath no fury like a man scorned.

    Mickey Rooney starts out as if he is a Danny Kaye milque-toast character. Taken in by Diane Foster, he soon meets up with 2 guys who want his driving talent to be used in robbing a bank.

    Rooney is great here as he goes from a quite guy, afraid of really living to aiding the guys in the heist.

    Hurt by the betrayal of Foster, she shows compassion at the end and this leads to tragedy as Rooney becomes a killer.

    This is really film-noir at its very best.

    The robbery was a complete success but the thieves were done in by personal reactions. This one is worth catching.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I tuned into this movie expecting to see Mickey Rooney doing his impersonation of a dramatic role. I mean, Mickey Rooney. Has anybody ever seen him do anything on film that wasn't over the top? Well, tune into this movie. I think you'll be as surprised as I was.

    The story has to do with a lonely, out of step guy who has a dream of racing in The Grand Prix. He's an accomplished mechanic, who races on weekends, but you know he'll never amount to anything. Along comes, long legged Dianne Foster. He falls hard, and she sucks him into a devious plot to rob a bank. What Mickey doesn't know is that she is in cahoots with a couple of classy mutts played by Kevin McCarthy and Jack Kelly. Foster lures the Mick into driving the getaway car so they'll have the money for him to race and they can live happily ever after. Not a chance. The plan all along is to ditch Mickey after the robbery, so she can run off with the mutts. Poor Mick never catches on on until the hammer drops, but by this time, the girls conscience gets the best of her and she spills the beans to Mickey. There is an explosive ending, but it does leave the viewer hanging a little.

    This is a Columbia cheapo, but the story is tight and well written. More importantly, the acting is first rate. All the principals really perform, but it's Mickey movie. He underplays the part of Eddie the sap perfectly. I didn't think it was possible, but this was later in his career, and I wish he had done more like it. It proved to me that he had much more range than one would think. I have to wonder if his height held him back. Or maybe it was his earlier body of work. Either way, I know he had much more to offer than Hollywood ever asked of him. Keep an eye open for it. You won't be disappointed.
  • Richard Quine probably has his best "non comedy" film with this one, but maybe has to take the rap also for what's weak about this film. The opening car race and the key bank "race" are pretty blandly done as is any other action set piece in the movie. The opening scene is really poor, like something you'd see in a film made in the Early silent days. Badly matched rear projection, the camera angle is so wrong in the rear projection that is doesn't match the action of Rooney driving at all. The process work isn't bad, the footage shot is. The rest of the race material is also poor. And for a film about the ability to race, the fact that the racing is bad can't be overlooked. After this crappy beginning the excellent performances and dialog drive the film along perfectly. Most of the cast is perfect and the personal violence between characters is very strong. Rooney is very understated here--in many of his other adult work he'd tend to over act, not here though at all. It's an award worthy performance.

    Just too bad that the action is treated like sloppy second unit work--some say (un)credited to Blake Edwards himself--but with Edwards interest in fast cars etc., hard to believe he'd shoot this stuff so badly. The ending, which also involves some action is perfunctorily done and the resolution too quick. Too bad because otherwise this would be a nearly perfect movie. Still if you get over, the opening especially, this is a must see.
  • In California, the mechanic Eddie Shannon (Mickey Rooney) is also an excellent racing-car driver that expects someday to save money to race in Europe in Le Mans, Grand Prix and other car races driving a European car. Eddie is a short and shy man that has difficulties to date a woman. When the crooks Steve Norris (Kevin McCarthy) and Harold Baker (Jack Kelly) see the performance of Eddie in a local race, they use Steve´s girlfriend Barbara Mathews (Dianne Foster) to seduce Eddie to convince him to drive the getaway car in a bank heist. What will be Eddie´s attitude?

    "Drive a Crooked Road" is a film-noir written by Blake Edwards and directed by Richard Quine. Mickey Rooney performs a dark and sad role that seems to be tailored for him. The femme fatale Dianne Foster is the key element of the story, first seducing Eddie and then triggering his anger leaving him full of hatred. The gloomy conclusion surprises, but fits perfectly to the story. My vote is seven.

    Title (Brazil): "Os Valentões" ("The Bullies")
  • Single greatest B picture I've ever seen. Sad ending is beyond belief, yet there is comic relief in the middle that is really funny. Mickey Rooney wondered why Redbook magazine voted this best picture of the year (over the A pictures.) He should have SEEN the picture! An absolutely unforgettable movie.
  • A shy Los Angeles mechanic and weekend racer (Mickey Rooney) is duped into being the getaway driver for bank robbers played by Kevin McCarthy and Jack Kelly. It seems as if they have a rather elaborate plot to hook him into their scheme by using McCarthy's girlfriend played by attractive Dianne Foster as lure for the shy and withdrawn Rooney who only has his job and his racing trophies to keep him going. It all works fairly well and shows how an innocent person is lured into doing something he would never ordinarily do with the bait being implied sex. Rooney is really good but so are both Kevin McCarthy and his partner played by Jack Kelly. The robbery itself occurs in Palm Springs and does not disappoint in execution with Kelly especially good as the gunman cracking jokes as he accompanies the head teller to the bank followed by the getaway car (which was souped up by Rooney). The film's title comes into play as Rooney drives like mad over a twisting mountain road back to the highway in under twenty minutes. All the elements of the story are mixed pretty well with a tough ending.
  • I should say that "Drive a Crooked Road" probably won't hold your attention quite as much as most movies that I've seen. What's mostly eye-opening about it is just seeing Mickey Rooney in a gritty role in a film noir. He plays Eddie Shannon, a mechanic with little aim in life. The high points in his daily routine are when his co-workers ogle women walking by the shop. But when he gets mixed up with the wrong woman, he suddenly finds himself involved in a bank robbery with apparently no way out.

    While some people might assert that Mickey Rooney was miscast here, I beg to differ. In this role, he shows that he can be something totally different from the "family-oriented" roles with which he's usually been associated (though I best remember him from "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" and "Night at the Museum"). This movie is approximately as gritty as the average film noir, and while it's not any kind of masterpiece, still worth seeing. As it's apparently not widely available on video or DVD, Portland's video/DVD store Movie Madness has a copy.

    Also starring Kevin McCarthy (of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers") and Jerry Paris (the neighbor on "The Dick Van Dyke Show").
  • "Drive a Crooked Road" is an excellent picture--written by Blake Edwards and starring Mickey Rooney. Most would probably consider it an example of film noir, though its camera-work and dialog aren't exactly typical for noir.

    When the story begins, you learn that Eddie (Rooney) is a small-time race car driver and mechanic. He also is rather quiet and is treated rather poorly at times due to his being so small. Because of that, he's vulnerable when a pretty lady (Dianne Foster) begins showing him a lot of attention. But she is not such a nice lady and halt ulterior motives. It seems her boyfriend (Kevn McCarthy) is a mobster and they are actually setting him up to become part of their robbery scheme! What's next? See the film.

    Most Mickey Rooney films, particularly those earlier in his career, are similar because Mickey plays nice guys or guys who become nice guys. Here, however, he agrees to become entangled with gangsters...gangsters who really are scum. Overall, well acted and interesting throughout...and well worth seeing. If you are interested, it's currently posted on YouTube.
  • Drive a Crooked Road is directed by Richard Quine who also co-adapts the screenplay with Blake Edwards from a story by James Benson Nablo. It stars Mickey Rooney, Dianne Foster, Kevin McCarthy and Jack Kelly. Music is by Ross DiMaggio and cinematography by Charles Lawton Jr.

    Car mechanic and race car driver Eddie Shannon (Rooney) is surprised when beautiful Barbara Mathews (Foster) shows interest in him. Normally the butt of jokes at work and uncomfortable around women, Eddie falls for Barbara's charms big time. Is it too good to be true? You bet it is...

    Frustrating! Neatly performed by the principal performers and featuring classic noir characters, yet it's a picture not being all that it can be.

    The pace is borderline laborious as characterisations are formed and film's central plot device unravels for the first two thirds of the piece. That the acting is so strong keeps us interested, Rooney, in a performance he was very fond of, tugs the heart strings with a beautifully understated performance as the dupe falling into a world that is alien to him. Foster as the femme fatale is sexy and sultry and utterly convincing in the way she lures Eddie into the web. That web is being spun by McCarthy's suave and sly Steve Norris, who backed up by the witty and edgy William McIntyre (Kelly), has plans afoot to break more than just the Palm Springs Bank.

    It's very good characterisations, undeniably, but visually the film is flat. Oh the L.A. locations used are nice to look at, but the all round sunny days feel to the surroundings never sits comfortably with the human dynamics. Then there is the problem of the "big pay off" for the last third. All things are in place for some excitement but the makers fail to deliver, the action sequences are brief and only adequately constructed. While although the closing scene carries enough of a sting to lift the production out of the mundane, this is just watchable fare without being essential for the film noir enthusiast. 6/10
  • Drive a Crooked Road (1954)

    ** 1/2 (out of 4)

    Mickey Rooney plays Eddie Shannon, a race car driver without a bit of self respect due to a scar that covers part of his face. He spends most of his time alone or working as a mechanic until one day he meets the beautiful Barbara (Dianne Foster). The two strangely hit it off but it turns out she's working for a small-time gangster (Kevin McCarthy) who needs to use Eddie for a bank heist. This semi-noir isn't the greatest film ever made but there are enough interesting moments to make it worth sitting through if you're a fan of the genre. It's always funny seeing some of this non-MGM roles that Rooney was in at the middle point of his career because on one hand it just doesn't seem right seeing him in a part like this but at the same time it gives the film a somewhat interesting twist simply because you are seeing him in this type of role. It's strange but I think Rooney's performance starts off a tad bit stiff but gets better as the movie goes along. The early scenes we see Eddie sitting alone, in deep thought and simply being too shy and embarrassed of himself to talk or act like a normal person. I thought Rooney struggled a little bit during these scenes but at the same time this could be one just simply in shock because this isn't the Rooney we're use to seeing. Once the story starts to pick up and he begins to come to life with the girl then I found Rooney to be much better suited. Foster really looks like a prettier version of a young Barbara Stanwyck. I thought she did a very good job in the film as she was perfectly believable as the love interest but she also handled the cold-blooded villain as well. McCarthy clearly steals the film with his slick, laid back performance. You can't help but feel he's a villain you love to hate because of his lack of emotion when it comes to fooling this weak guy by making the loser think he's a winner. There are many memorable moments in the film including an early scene between Rooney and Foster on a beach where she tries to bring him out of his shell. The greatest sequence in the film is the actual heist, which is followed by a sequence where Rooney must drive at a fast speed on a dangerous road in order to get past a road block that police will put up once they learn of the robbery. This sequence here has some nice tension in it and the editing is very good. DRIVE A CROOKED ROAD is probably going to appeal to fans of Rooney and McCarthy more than your typical crime-picture fan. I think a stronger screenplay would have been beneficial especially early on when this hot woman falls for the Rooney character as it simply isn't very believable.
  • After Quicksand Rooney get the respect from the critics after been marked as musicals kid in early years, in this one once more in a noir movie he gaves us a great performance, apart all this the screemplay was a big problem of the movie, a poor script fall apart, the lack of credibility was exposed when a poor man, low stature gotta attention of a beauty gal, sincerely the great sin of the script, in other hand the heist is too quiet, the escape certainly the highlights of the entire picture, well planned and accomplished on fine action, another fail is about how he discovered that was deceived by the girl, no make sense at all, the heist was a successful endeavor, but little silly details spoils everything, fool's stuff, even with those mistakes worthwhile to see!!

    Resume:

    First watch: 2019 / How many: 1 / Source: DVD / Rating: 7.5
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Mild-mannered race track mechanic/driver Mickey Rooney is shyly in love with pretty Dianne Foster which alerts her boyfriend and his fellow drivers to the possibility of using him as the get-away driver in a bank heist. He is desperate to remain honest but being infatuated with Foster gives him more temptation than he can handle.

    Lacking in any real passion, this ends up being just another one of the many heist films and one of Rooney's more unmemorable B films after his long reign at MGM. He may have continued to work regularly, but other than a few great supporting parts here and there was shoved mainly in crap to continue to get a paycheck.

    Supporting actors show more life here than Rooney does, his acting mainly tepid until the finale. For most of the film, its mostly talk, talk, talk and little action. The location footage is pretty good and the over a photography is excellent. But there really is little action and absolutely no spark between Rooney and Foster. Mainly for the most loyal of the Mick's cult following or lovers of crime drama. The noir aspect of it is obviously subtle which indicates that it will be questioned in the list of films in that genre.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    ***SPOILERS*** In one of his best adult roles Mickey Rooney is car mechanic and race car driver Eddie "Shorty" Shannon who gets caught up in a bank robbery not for money but for love in him impressing gun moll Barbara Mathews, Dianne Foster. It was Barbara who made a play for Eddie in getting him involved, as a wheel man, in a bank robbery that her boyfriend greasy Steve Norris, Kevin McCarthy, and his pal Harold Baker, Jack Kelly, were planning to pull off.

    Not at all interested in his take of $15,000.00 in the robbery but only wanting to impress Barbara Eddie against his better judgment went along with the plan only to end up getting stiffed by her in dropping him like a hot potato and planning to check out to France with her greasy boyfriend Norris. Eddie for his part heart broken as he was still carried a torch for the double-dealing Barbara and after he escaped being murdered by Baker in order to keep him from talking to the police went back, bloodies and battered after his escape, to the beach house where Norris & Barbara were and that's where the real action in the movie began.

    ***SPOILERS*** A tour de force by Mickey Rooney who's acting in the film was so both tragic as well as touching that it should have easily earned him an Academy Award. Mickey playing against type and a lonely and shy , with girls, young man compared in real life where he romanced the most beautiful women, Lana Turner Norma Sherer Ava Gardner & Marilyn Monroe, in Hollywood Mickey made you forget who he was in the role, as a love starved schnook, that he so convincingly played.