Drive a Crooked Road (1954)

“Why would a dame like her go for a guy like me?” Insecure, lonely mechanic/weekend race car driver “Eddie Shannon” (Mickey Rooney) falls for beautiful dame “Barbara Mathews” (Dianne Foster), unaware that he’s just being used as part of a plot to get him to agree to drive the getaway car for a Palm Springs bank heist orchestrated by her sleazy boyfriend “Steve Norris” (Kevin McCarthy). Jack Kelly injects some much-needed comic relief as Steve’s wise-cracking sidekick “Harold Baker.” The normally exuberant Rooney is remarkably restrained in the role and overall this is a fast-paced and entertaining little flick despite its rather lackluster ending. Interestingly, just about every single character gets the opportunity to joke about Rooney’s diminutive size and in one instance he’s even referred to as “short and ugly.” Directed by Richard Quine, the film was co-scripted by Quine and Blake Edwards from a short story, “The Wheel Man,” by James Benson Nablo. Drive a Crooked Road would make a great double feature with Quicksand (1950), another low-budget film noir starring Rooney once again as a mechanic who gets caught up in criminal endeavors. Look for Jerry Paris – best known as “Jerry Helper” from The Dick Van Dyke Show – as “Phil,” one of the mechanics.

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