Crime Wave (1953)

Approved   |    |  Crime, Drama, Film-Noir


Crime Wave (1953) Poster

Reformed parolee Steve Lacey is caught in the middle when a wounded former cellmate seeks him out for shelter.


7.3/10
3,404

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27 November 2001 | bmacv
8
| Well paced, well cast late noir from underrated Andre De Toth
It's too bad Andre De Toth didn't contribute more to the noir cycle, because on the evidence he was a natural (plus he was married to early-noir icon Veronica Lake). The Pitfall, made in 1948, looks more and more like one of the best, and most central, movies in the cycle, but (except for the early, more gothic Dark Waters) De Toth only returned to it once, with Crime Wave. Its story is not a fresh one: an ex-con trying to go straight (Gene Nelson) is coerced by circumstances to aid and abet a gang of his former cellmates. The uncomfortable spot he finds himself in lies between them and the law, personified by Sterling Hayden as a tough, unforgiving police detective. There's much more attention to character in the film's hour-and-a-quarter running time than in many full-length features of the era; Jay Novello, as an alcoholic veterinarian who doubles as an underworld sawbones, is especially memorable. By any reckoning Crime Wave is a minor film -- even a minor second feature -- but De Toth lavishes easy expertise on it; it's surprisingly well paced, well shot, as well interestingly cut. Why so many talented directors (many of them refugees from Europe) were relegated, in the 1950s, to "genre" movies -- crime dramas, 3-D schlockfests and westerns -- is a puzzle. In any case, I'd give any three of De Toth's westerns AND his House of Wax for just one more film noir boasting his directorial credit.

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