Crime Wave

[3.0 stars] Crime Wave (1954) on IMDb


The first half of a DVD film noir double feature from Netflix. Crime Wave is a 1954 cheapie crime thriller with Sterling Hayden as "Sims", a hard-as-nails L.A. cop and Gene Nelson as "Steve", an ex-con trying hard to live the straight life for his lovely wife, played by Phyllis Kirk.

Things get complex for Steve when a trio of his prison buddies break out and head for L.A., comitting minor theft and murdering one cop along the way. Steve is alerted to possible problems when a mortally-wounded member of the gang forces his way into Steve's apartment. A doctor (also an ex-con) is summoned, but the guy dies before he can be helped. This draws the attention of Sims, who sees Steve as a means to track down the bad guys. Steve has to avoid getting thrown back into the slammer, but also deal with the remaining members of the gang, who coerce him by threatening his wife. They're planning to knock over a bank, and need Steve to aid their escape.

It's not bad, although (as mentioned) very cheaply made, and the acting is both hammy and wooden by today's standards. It's one of Charles Bronson's early appearances (he's billed as Charles Buchinsky). And Timothy Carey has few memorable scenes as a psycho menacing Steve's wife.

The DVD has a commentary track with noir expert Eddie Muller and author James Ellroy (who wrote L.A. Confidential, in which one of the major characters was Bud White, played in the movie by Russell Crowe). As reported here, it's pretty funny:

JAMES ELLROY: Sterling Hayden-- THAT is my Bud White. THAT is my Bud White! F--- Russell Crowe in 'L A Confidential.' I mean he was okay, but he's a shrimpy little f--ing Bud White as Bud Whites go. Sterling Hayden is the real deal. Look at this! He's not even acting. Look at that HAT.

EDDIE MULLER: That's a really ugly pork pie.

JAMES ELLROY: It's ugly because he batters down doors using his head.

Might be worthwhile to re-rent just to listen to Ellroy and Muller.

Last Modified 2012-09-24 5:00 AM EDT