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  • I was lucky enough to see this little slice of film crime noir at the LACMA during the weekly Tuesday Matinée, and let me tell you, but for all the old ladies and grandpas in the theater I felt I had been transported back to the golden age of Los Angeles Film Noir. This title ranks up there with White Heat as one of the best crime thrillers using the City of Angels as its locale. After renting Kubrick's The Killing on DVD I jumped at the chance to see another heist film with Sterling Hayden, in my opinion the meanest S.O.B. Noir actor. He is awesome as usual in this movie with his characteristic scowl frozen on his face. Also for a film made half a century ago it has remarkably stood up to the test of time quite well. It's really a lean, mean little crime thriller. Please whoever owns the rights to this gem, release this forgotten classic on DVD!! You still have the chance to release a 50th anniversary edition this year!!
  • This is excellent example of film noir: almost everything you'd want in this genre. Right from the opening shot, this had noir written all over it by cinematographer Bert Glennon, and from opening holdup-murder scene at the gas station, you knew you were in for a rough ride.

    Speaking of "rough," I can't think of too many actors who were better and more suited for noir than Sterling Hayden, who delivers yet another uncompromising hard-headed, tough- guy character. This time he's a cop, "Det. Lt. Sims," and one with no use for any "con," even if the guy (in this case, Gene Nelson's "Steve Lacey") has cleaned up his act.

    It wasn't just the photography and Haden, the entire cast was fascinating, and it's simply a fast-moving, entertaining film. Andre de Toth's direction also was terrific. He directed only one other noir: Pitfall, another great film that we are still waiting to see on DVD. At least this film finally made it to disc.

    I had forgotten what classic beauty Phyllis Kirk possessed. Wow, what a face! She starred as "Nora Charles" on the popular "Thin Man" television series in the '50s. In here, she plays Lacey's wife "Ellen." Rather that going through the whole cast, I'll just say it was a hoot to see Timothy Carey again, even if his role was limited. This guy played the most whacked-out minor characters I've ever seen in movies. (See "The Killing" for a good example of what I mean.) Jay Novello as the veterinarian ex-con also was really interesting.

    I'll tell you what else was nice: the realistic scenes with actual locations around Los Angeles in the early '50s. This movie had a number of hand-held camera shots. Even the holdup in the bank was done in a real bank. There are few, if any, hokey studio shots in this movie. It's the real deal..... and very much recommended. Combined with "Decoy" on the same disc, it makes for a nice double--feature for a night of noir.
  • Simply one of the best hard boiled noir films I have seen. Sterling Hayden is, as usual, excellent, while a very young Charles Bronson is surprisingly good as a 'punk' hood. Seems to feature nearly all scenes as location, or hand-held camera and it seems at times like a particularly effective episode of a 50s TV cop show - except that the content is much more brutal and sharp. This is a dark, dark film both in storyline and in the quite brilliant photography. I'd really love to see this neglected classic come out on a restored print on DVD. Isn't it time Criterion updated their 'noir' list? This cries out for restoration and a re-release.
  • 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.
  • Short film that doesn't waste a moment. Life is short and hard in this film. Make one mistake and you're marked for life, at least that seems to be Sterling Hayden's motto. Gene Nelson gives a good performance as a man haunted by his past. Steve Lacey is so scarred by his past that it runs his current life, this eventually leads him into trouble. Andre De Toth keeps most of the film in the shadows and only a few scenes take place during the day. Even the climatic robbery is shot in the dark. The only false note is that Hayden's character doesn't act the same throughout the movie. I found the movie to be pretty brutal for the time and Charles Bronson did a good job portraying most of the brutality. All in all, a worthy entry in the film noir genre.
  • An American Cinematheque presentation at The Egyptian.

    A great little 'second feature' noir. Hayden is brilliant as the tough and cynical cop willing to break any rule to catch a couple of cop killers, and Phyllis Kirk oozes B-movie sex-appeal as the good-girl caught in the middle. With some genuinely funny dialogue, solid performances all round, and wonderful location filming around downtown Los Angeles, Chinatown and Glendale, the movie is a brilliant testament to the quality of so many cheap post-war crime thrillers. Of particular interest is the location filming inside the LAPD offices and dispatch room in City Hall.

    Charles Bronson plays a tough-guy killer in an early supporting role. Timothy Carey shows up to chew the scenery as a bizarre, bog-eyed, dope-fiend, rape-o. And there's a great car chase through the Downtown city streets at night.

    A minor classic. Entertaining throughout.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    There's something particularly pleasing about a relatively short, low budget movie which has the power to make a great impact and "Crime Wave" (a.k.a. "The City Is Dark" & "Don't Cry Baby") is just such a movie. It's very well acted, has interesting characters and maintains a lively pace throughout. The story's main protagonist is an ex-con who's trying desperately to go straight and neither the cops nor the criminals believe in his determination or ability to do so. He's pressured and threatened by both and this puts him in a tight spot because if he cooperates with the criminals, he'll inevitably fall back into a life of crime and if he doesn't, he and his wife could find themselves in mortal danger.

    Since serving out a prison sentence, Steve Lacey (Gene Nelson) has been successful in avoiding further trouble. He's married to Ellen (Phyllis Kirk), has his own apartment and also a well-paid job as an airplane mechanic. His problems begin when one of his ex-cell mates turns up at his home. Gat Morgan (Ned Young) who's seriously injured is carrying a gun and Steve and Ellen are forced to let him stay. Shortly after, Dr Otto Hessler (Jay Novello)arrives to attend to Gat's gunshot wound but it's too late as Gat dies before the doctor can help. Hessler takes the dead man's money to cover his costs and leaves.

    At the same time, LAPD Detective Lieutenant Sims (Sterling Hayden) has been able to confirm that the three men who had just carried out a gas station robbery and killed a motorcycle cop were a group of escaped convicts who'd broken out of San Quentin. He has a hunch that the men will contact their old cell mate and so arrests Steve and takes him in for questioning. Steve insists that he's unable to help and is eventually released.

    Steve's situation then gets worse when the other two gang members, Doc Penny (Ted de Corsia) and Ben Hastings (Charles Bronson) turn up at his apartment. Hastings takes Steve's car and goes to Hessler's place where he kills the doctor and then has to escape on foot because a passer-by had witnessed the murder. As soon as the car found close to the murder scene is identified as Steve's, he becomes the focus of a police manhunt. Penny and Hastings then force Steve to help them carry out a bank robbery and the tension builds steadily because Steve has tipped off the cops and also, the heist doesn't go according to plan.

    Sims and Hessler are the two strongest characters in "Crime Wave". Sims is big, tough and permanently dishevelled and habitually chews toothpicks to help him give up smoking. He's intimidating and deeply cynical and doesn't believe that Steve or any ex-con can be rehabilitated. His unsophisticated method of operation simply involves bullying and threatening everyone regardless of whether they happen to be suspects or witnesses and Sterling Hayden gives an immensely powerful performance in this role.

    Dr Hessler is a very believable underground physician, a man who's no longer able to practice medicine legitimately and who's turned his attentions to caring for animals instead. He's obviously suffered some misfortune in the past and consoles himself by turning to the bottle. His genuine fondness of animals is a positive quality, which goes some way to balance out such actions as relieving a dead patient of his (albeit stolen) money. Jay Novello does well in bringing out the different aspects of Hessler's character so vividly.

    The visual style of this movie is quite striking and the nocturnal scenes are particularly well framed and lit. The shadowy streets add powerfully to the atmosphere of the piece and the use of so many location shots is effective in strengthening the movie's strong sense of realism. "Crime Wave" is very enjoyable on a number of levels and certainly merits greater recognition than it's been given in the past.
  • And we fans of film noir prize nastiness and cold-heartedness. We also like small movies.

    Gene Nelson is very affecting as a parolee who is dragged into a crime against his will. Phyllis Kirk is fine as his wife. She doesn't add much flavor but she's believably loyal.

    For flavor, we have none other than Timothy Carey! He is one of the bad guys. Charles Bronson, early in his career, is another. Carey adds a great deal of creepiness to the goings-on.

    Sterling Hayden is excellent as the cynical cop who's called in. Though the plot tells us nothing about him other than that he's given up smoking and misses it, he is clearly not a warm human being. His eyes squint and shift. He doesn't trust anyone and it's very possible he doesn't like much of anyone, either.

    The movie begins with Dub Taylor as an exceptionally goofy gas station attendant. He's like a character from the "Ma and Pa Kettle" series. But our villains knock him out and rob him, which is a jarring contrast.

    The characters are very well drawn in "Crime Wave." It has a tough plot but the people are what elevates it to a high status.
  • I just love these type films and I had never heard of this one--thank you to the Mystery Channel. Great performances all around, and for once I liked this performance of Sterling Hayden!! Normally, I can't stand him, as he seemed to play the same character in every film I have seen him in. Gene Nelson and Phyllis Kirk were also excellent,who would have thought they could do such acting and the cinematography is really something to see--I always wonder when seeing these films, just how many of the buildings are still around. This is a great little film--be sure and catch it if you ever see it on the schedule!!!
  • Aces all around. Too bad this crime drama came along in the twilight of B b&w because it's in the best tradition—fast, tough, and unsentimental. Director deToth is a perfect shaper with his cynical European style. So why do three city slickers stick-up a penny ante filling station, and kill a cop in the process. Because they're prison escapees, it turns out, and on their way to a big score in LA. But first, they have to conscript an ex-con as their flyboy getaway. Meanwhile, of course, the LAPD takes a dim view of such goings on.

    Can't help thinking Kubrick caught this flick since so much of the cast, story and LA locations show up in his classic heister, The Killing (1956). Speaking of not getting their due, Hayden is one of the most unusual presences of the period. With his gaunt features, shambling gait, and world-weary air, he towers over movies of the period. Without saying a word, he's clearly not a cop to fool with. But, oddly, it's really Jay Novello who gets a rare chance to shine. A familiar milk-toast presence from a hundred different shows, he rifles the pockets of the dead here, a slimy character until he lovingly takes care of the sick doggie—too bad it's too late for both.

    Then there's that combo out of some movie inferno— the real life lunatic Timothy Carey mugging it up mercilessly, along with real life hard case Charlie Bronson getting some practice in. The real life nightmare, however, is leaving your wife with a drooling nut case like Carey as happens here. Now what sane guy would do that. Speaking of girls, I'm wondering where I can find one like the sweater-wearing cutie, Phyllis Kirk. No wonder Carey is drooling.

    Anyhow, it's a heckuva good little crime meller with all kinds of colorful touches. I'm just glad deToth held his ground against the studio. Putting stars like Bogart and Ava Gardner in this would have meant the star treatment and not the gritty little sleeper B-movie fans so treasure.
  • Quinoa198419 April 2009
    Crime Wave has the makings for something quite simple as a movie. Its story is about cops and criminals and a few ordinary folks trying to get by. A few criminals (the main ones played by Ted de Corsia and a young Charles Bronson) are out of San Quentin and shoot a gas station attendant and cop. On the lam they hold up with also ex-con Steve Lacey (decent leading man Gene Nelson) with his wife, but what they don't know is that he's already been tapped by the cops, specifically Sterling Hayden's Detective Sims, who is so hard-nosed he could cut through bricks with just a stare and some tough words. It all leads up to one of those heists that just can't go right for the bad guys, but what about the good couple caught in the middle?

    It is fairly straightforward, and it could have been in other hands. But there's something about Andre De Toth, as director, that stands Crime Wave out as a piece of lean noir cuisine. The way it's shot is one thing, as his European influence comes through in a lot of the exteriors and his way of utilizing natural lighting and real locations, or just how he has someone like a room that looks too real like Sims' office. His camera has a distinct tone to it even when sets or usual shots in moving cars have to be done, and it cuts through the BS and keeps one riveted even as one knows what's going to happen (the last couple of minutes with Sims and the Lacey's are one of them).

    It also can't be stressed how awesome an actor Sterling Hayden is. In everything he just brings that "umph" that is required whether it's to a hoodlum or a psychotic or a corrupt cop, and in Crime Wave his authority as a presence (six foot five inches) and his pattern of speech play off well against the rest of the usual character actors, save maybe for Charles Bronson since he too is unique even at a young age and creepy character actor Timothy Carey as the man put on watch of Mrs. Lacey. Overall, Crime Wave is a procedural that snaps and crackles and pops for 72 minutes and allows fans of classic film noir to soak up the atmosphere and have a good time seeing the coppers close in on the crooks who, as almost always is the case, don't stand a chance.
  • The criminals "Doc" Penny (Ted de Corsia), Ben Hastings (Charles Bronson) and Gat Morgan (Ned Young) escape from San Quentin and kill a police officer while robbing a gas-station. However Morgan is shot and left behind by his partners. He seeks shelter with the former inmate Steve Lacey (Gene Nelson), who is paroled and starting a new life with his wife Ellen Lacey (Phyllis Kirk) and working as airplane mechanic. Lacey asks him to go away but Morgan tells that he has summoned the former Dr. Otto Hessler (Jay Novello) to treat him. When Hessler arrives, he realizes that Morgan is dead and flees from the apartment. Lacey calls his parole officer Daniel O'Keefe (James Bell) while the sleazy Detective Lieutenant Sims (Sterling Hayden) arrives at his home following his instincts. Lacey is arrested for three days but O'Keefe believes him and keeps his job. When Lacey returns home, "Doc" and Ben surprisingly arrive and threaten Ellen to force Lacey to participate in a bank heist. What will Steve Lacey do?

    "Crime Wave" is an excellent film-noir with the story of a man trying to start a new life and haunted by his former cellmates. The cinematography in black and white is impressive and very beautiful. The direction of André De Toth is perfect and Sterling Hayden has an amazing performance in the role of a tough homicide detective. Indeed all the cast has also great performance. The beauty of Phyllis Kirk is highlighted by her role and by the cinematography. My vote is nine.

    Title (Brazil): "Cidade Tenebrosa" ("Tenebrous City")
  • PWNYCNY22 October 2013
    This is a good movie. The cinematography and acting are excellent. Sterling Hayden dominates the movie. The on-locations shots of Los Angeles capture the essence of the U.S. urban scene in the early 1950s. This movie is proof that elaborate and expensive sets ate not necessary to produce a solid movie. The close-ups of Phyllis Kirk and Gene Nelson are wonderful. The rest of cast are excellent too. Jay Novello playing the doctor is great casting. And no one could have played Ted de Corsia's part better. This movie shows how excellent casting can lift an otherwise standard crime melodrama to a higher artistic level. The use of black-and-white really works effectively in establishing the mood - somber, gritty, unpretentious. Of course, the movie is also well-directed, proof being the way the story is told - through actions, not narration, and through strong acting. This movie is a cinematic gem.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "Crime Wave" is a very good example of a forgotten film noir picture that deserves to be seen. Its strengths are its directness--it is compactly told, brutally violent and lacking in the glamor and glitz you find in some of the 'pretty' examples of noir. Heck, to me noir pictures should NOT be pretty--they need ugly actors, dark camera work and relatively modest production values--not the flashy Hollywood type of actors or sets. In this sense, the film is quite a success--with the most notable actor being the rugged but far from pretty Sterling Hayden (a veteran of noir) and the rather obscure Gene Nelson.

    The story itself is pretty simple. A gang of vicious robbers commit a strong-arm robbery and kill a cop. One of the gang is mortally wounded in the robbery but manages to make it to the home of an ex-con who lives nearby. The con has gone straight and wants nothing to do with crime--he's happily married and has a decent job. But, when the other two gang members later show up as well and demand he become the new third member of the gang or they'll kill his wife, he's stuck. Should he help them or go to the cops? As for Hayden, he plays an amazingly cynical cop who's tough to like. He is in many ways a jerk--and a lot less likable than the ex-con. I like that juxtaposition and the film is exciting throughout--making it well worth your time.

    By the way, while not long enough, there's a nice making of DVD extra included with this film as well as the movie "Decoy" on the same disk.
  • skybar20-119 November 2007
    Like so many movies in the great B film noir genre, "Crime Wave" is no exception. It's cut to the bone (no fat usually in the form of "star" turns). The larger A productions often get bogged down in romantic moments. At the time of their release, these films may have starred actors who were very popular and who were given romantic scenes to satisfy the audiences of their day. They are less embraced today so these moments tend to slow up the narrative. The B films just tell an exciting story. Sterling Hayden is made for the genre. One reviewer mentioned Phyllis Kirk's classical beauty. I just shrugged and said "yes, she's cute." Boy was I ever wrong and he right. I fell in love with her. She's a lot of guys' dream of the girl next door....the one you want as a wife. The rest of the cast perfectly executes their roles. This is a terrific film and now available on DVD in a great print.
  • Crime Wave (1954)

    What a surprise. There was a drift in the 1950s from highly controlled studio to highly controlled location shooting, and then, as we see here, to a slightly looser location style that used more of the ambient qualities. It isn't quite cinema verite (or some other documentary-influenced style more common in Europe), and it may be more a product of budget than aesthetics, but it really works. It's most of all realistic.

    Director Andre De Toth handles all the moving elements with fast precision. The photography is, by necessity, smart and crisp, but the lighting is less dramatic (less noir, you might say) than most crime films. But again, this is a indication of where the industry was moving, on on De Toth's intentions to avoid over stylizing. Other mid 1950s crime films also show shifts from the dramatics of the noirs that define the genre, one example being another Sterling Hayden, "The Killing," directed by Kubrick two years later. The use of identifiable locations for the shoots is part of their unique draw. In Crime Wave, the L.A. streets are used in a simple, unhyped way.

    The story is a meat and potatoes police drama, with Hayden working the homicide squad. He's terse and experienced, and has the thugs in his sights almost from the start. This puts a lot of the focus on the bad guys, and they come off as highly believable. They do crimes to survive, without romanticizing the criminal, and with lots of little mistakes and harping back and forth. And they know they are on the run, dragging a couple of innocent people along for the terrifying ride.
  • "Crime Wave" opens with a gang of criminals carrying out a robbery at a gasoline station, in the course of which a police officer is killed and one of the gangsters wounded. The wounded man makes his way to the home of Steve Lacey, a former associate of some of the gang, but dies before medical help can arrive. This turns Lacey's life upside-down. Although he is a former convict, he has been trying to start a new life; he has found an honest job as an aircraft mechanic and has married a woman who supports his determination to "go straight". Soon, Lacey is approached by the surviving gang members. Although he wants nothing to do with them, his fears for this own safety and that of his wife mean that he is forced to allow them to stay in his apartment and reluctantly agrees to assist them with a planned bank robbery.

    There are a number of similarities with another film noir, Sam Fuller's "Pickup on South Street", which came out the previous year. That film too had a central figure who was an ex-convict, and in both films the police are shown in a less that positive light. The police officers in "Pickup on South Street" are not idealised heroes but flawed characters with little compunction about bullying suspects or bribing informers to get information. The main police character in "Crime Wave", Detective Lieutenant Sims, is a similar figure, ruthless, hard-nosed and lacking in human warmth. Sims does not believe in the possibility of rehabilitation or reform, and hence is very suspicious of Lacey, even though his parole officer is willing to vouch for the young man's reformed character. A surprise development late in the film, however, does enable us to see Sims in a rather more sympathetic way.

    Director André De Toth was not primarily known as a noir director- he seems to have specialised more in Westerns- but here he reveals himself to have been a competent director of crime dramas, even an innovative one. He shot much of the film on location in Los Angeles, making use of both city landmarks such as City Hall and of more humble buildings. (The gas station which the villains hold up was, for example, a real one). This use of real city locations for added realism seems to have started a trend in film noir; one film said to have been influenced by this one was Stanley Kubrick's "The Killing", which used several of the same actors.

    "Crime Wave" was made as a second feature, which explains why it is so short, at just over 70 minutes in length. De Toth, however, was able to turn the film's short running-time to his advantage, as it has a terseness and gripping sense of tension lacking in some more expansive dramas. A number of typical noir features are present, such as the moody black-and-white photography, with a number of scenes taking place at night or in low levels of lighting. (An alternative title for the film is "The City is Dark"). Another such feature is the sense of moral ambiguity hanging over the storyline, with an ex-convict turning out to be more heroic than the official guardians of law and order. The film does not, however, feature that stock noir character, the seductive but villainous femme fatale- the only major female character is Lacey's courageous and virtuous wife Ellen, played by Phyllis Kirk with her sweetly innocent, girl-next-door prettiness.

    I would not rate the film quite as highly as "Pickup on South Street", one of the greatest of all films noirs. There are no acting contributions quite on the same level as those of Richard Widmark, Jean Peters and Thelma Ritter in the earlier film, although Sterling Hayden is very effective as Sims. (Another well-known face is a young Charles Bronson, credited under his real name of Charles Buchinsky, as one of the gangsters). Fuller's film also has a greater moral complexity. Whereas Lacey is a reformed character who has gone straight and become a model citizen, Widmark's character, Skip McCoy, is at the beginning of the film far from reformed; in the very first scene we see him stealing a wallet from a young woman on the subway. Crime Wave", however, is a tense, well-paced and well-made crime drama, and for something which began life as a B-movie a remarkably influential one. 7/10
  • Ted deCorsia has that effortless ability to play a complete scumbag even while wearing a suit and tie. And together with Charles Bronson playing a big dumb brute raise the nervous factor in Crime Wave. There are a lot of noir films that can be enjoyed for the nostalgia or cute dialog factors. You can sit back and watch them with a cinema professors eye. However Crime Wave makes you want to reach into the screen and rip the villains apart with your bare hands. That means that they're doing their job very well. Again, hats off to Ted deCorsia in everything he did, except playing John Wayne's father-in-law in The Conqueror.
  • Crime Wave is exactly what three hard case escaped cons from San Quentin are causing in California when they escape. Making their way down the Pacific Highway, they've had a string of low level robberies, gas stations, convenience stores et al, all for traveling money. When they hold up a gas station within Los Angeles and an LAPD officer is killed trying to apprehend them, these cons get Sterling Hayden on their case.

    Hayden is a tough cop who has a dislike for cons in general, once a criminal always a criminal. So he has a bad attitude toward a known associate Gene Nelson whom the escapees Nedrick Young, Charles Bronson and Ted DeCorsia contact.

    First comes Young who was wounded in the filling station holdup and dies inconveniently in Nelson's apartment. The others come as well and want Nelson in a planned caper they have. Hayden comes, but Nelson plays dumb, mainly because he's now got a wife in Phyllis Kirk whom they threaten as well.

    Nelson also doesn't crack at first because he also doesn't want to be a stoolie either. No one on either side of the law wants that reputation.

    In fact eventually he does warn the cops in a manner of speaking. Like On The Waterfront, Crime Wave is also a justification that sometimes telling the authorities is the right thing to do. Sterling Hayden was just such a friendly witness at the House Un-American Activities Committee and he tells Nelson in no uncertain terms it's right.

    Hayden was one of the most unique and unorthodox characters ever to inhabit the movie colony. One should read his very good and not ghost written memoir The Wanderer and get a real insight into him. Through life this man did not play by anybody's rules as far as he could.

    Crime is a taut, no frills noir with some really great performances by a great ensemble cast.
  • With a diverse taste in film (hopefully), spreading across all genres and all decades, crime dramas are right up my street, even the dark and gritty ones.

    'The City is Dark' (as credited here in the UK rather than 'Crime Wave', prefer the latter title personally) is as dark and gritty as one can get and is as far from glamorous (pretty seedy actually too), but that is what makes it the little film noir/crime drama gem it is. It isn't quite a masterpiece, but 'The City is Dark' at its best is excellent and deserves far more exposure than it's gotten. Maybe it is a little too short and it does cram in a lot in a short running time, perhaps a little too much in places. However, it is never dull and one is kept on the edge of their seat throughout.

    Its production values are superb, with gritty but also pretty sumptuous cinematography and suitably seedy settings. Atmospheric lighting too. The haunting score by David Buttolph adds a lot, as does the taut direction by generally under-appreciated Andre De Toth. It is interesting to hear the Gershwin brothers classic "S Wonderful" on the radio, sung by none other by Doris Day, and no despite how that sounds it's not out of place at all.

    Writing is tight and suspenseful with a lot of thought-provoking moments. The story is just as tense and is basically a gritty look at police methods, the criminal world and the difficulties crooks face when reforming, compellingly told.

    Very strong cast, with an excellent Sterling Hayden and Gene Nelson, who considering the stuff he's most famous for (dancing and musicals, completely different kettle of fish) one wouldn't expect to work at all but he does. Phyllis Kirk is good support, as is a slimy Jay Novello and the terrifying support of Ted De Corsia and Timothy Carey. A young Charles Bronson also does a good job.

    Overall, it is a shame that 'The City is Dark' is as underrated as it is because it really is a very good film with very little to dislike. 8/10 Bethany Cox
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Crime Wave is an excellent example of film noir. Right from the opening shot it has noir written all over it from cinematographer Bert Glennon. And like most noir, you get straight into it – the film's opening holdup/murder scene at the gas station lets you know you're going to be in for a rough ride. Speaking of rough, Sterling Hayden was perfectly cast as the hard-headed, tough cop. The rest of the cast (which includes an eye-catching Charles Bronson) were pretty good as well. At times I thought Gene Nelson could show a bit more enthusiasm, but he did his job nonetheless.

    Scenes were filmed on location, which was impressive. As was the fact that the movie was filmed in 13 days. Wow. The story isn't fresh, but you get stuck in right away and are with Steve Lacey as he struggles to keep himself and his wife away from the criminals who drag him into their plans for a bank robbery. The dialogue is classic noir. It's a shame that this movie is another forgotten noir film. I mean, it's not The Maltese Falcon but it sure as hell is worth watching.

    Crime Wave is a minor film but one worth watching – it is surprisingly well shot, paced and interestingly cut. An excellent example of the low- budget crime dramas that Hollywood churned out during the 50's, I was a little underwhelmed by the ending. The cop just kind of has a complete switch of character when he tells the husband and wife duo that they are free and won't be bothered with. It seemed like a typical rushed ending that we get from a lot of B movie noirs.

    My Rating: 7/10

    Final Word: Satisfactory

    Full Review: crime-wave/
  • Before its announcement for DVD release as part of the fourth installment of Warners’ “The Film Noir Collection”, where it was greeted with cheers of anticipation, I have to admit that I wasn’t aware this particular title had that much of a reputation – despite the director and star (Sterling Hayden) involved. Having watched it for myself, I was duly impressed though I wouldn’t quite place it in the genre’s top ranks…but that’s because the standards set by the invigorating noir style during its heyday were so high.

    Incidentally, despite the title (which would seem to be hinting at a broader scale) and its being produced by one of the Hollywood majors (Warner Bros.), the modest 74-minute duration pretty much relegated the piece to B-movie status; furthermore, the filming was reportedly completed in a mere fortnight! Interestingly, it was the follow-up effort (for the same studio) by the team behind the gimmicky horror classic HOUSE OF WAX (1953) – namely De Toth, producer Bryan Foy, scriptwriter Crane Wilbur, and co-stars Phyllis Kirk and Charles Bronson.

    The plot followed a much-used noir formula: the man whose past comes back to haunt him – as an ex-con (Gene Nelson) is forced by three fugitives (including Bronson and Ted de Corsia), after deliberately compromising his parole and threatening his wife, into first harboring them and then take part in their proposed bank robbery (by which time they’ve enrolled other dangerous elements to their fold, notably a typically-nutty Timothy Carey). The narrative, then, tries to cram in as many recognizably noir elements as it possibly can: suspense, violence, romance, location shooting, documentary approach (via a systematic police procedural), etc.

    For once, too, Hayden is on the side of the law – CRIME WAVE actually came roughly in between his two most famous noir roles in John Huston’s THE ASPHALT JUNGLE (1950) and Stanley Kubrick’s THE KILLING (1956), both of them classic heist films in which he had played the fated leader of a criminal gang – though his character is just as cynical, tough and uncompromising as ever. In fact, for the longest time, he seemed merely a toothpick-chewing, thick-headed bully here but, eventually, he gets to show his essential softness in the film’s beautifully-handled (unusually hopeful for the genre) finale.

    De Toth operated in most genres (albeit tending towards action-oriented fare, despite his being blind in one eye!) and, whether adopting monochrome or color stock, the full-frame ratio or the Widescreen, he could always be depended upon to deliver an efficient, unpretentious, stylish and entertaining product.
  • Andre De Toth a Hungarian by birth was renowned by all who knew him as a bit of character and a fun guy to be around, unless that is you were a producer at which point De Toth showed his argumentative side, a side of his character that saw him loose an eye in a pre war anti Nazi rally. De Toth was given a one off film deal with Warners to make a big budget film, Bogie,Cagney and Ava Gardner were proposed for this particular venture, to be filmed over 35 days, De Toth said he didn't want any of them and insisted he could make the film in 15 days with Sterling Hayden in the lead role of Det. Lt. Sims, De Toth's insistence paid off and he brought the completed film home two days ahead of schedule, despite this the film was shelved for 2 years and when eventually released failed at the box office, up until about ten years ago it was pretty much a forgotten film, with only one print known to exist. Filmed pretty much all on location around Los Angeles in a stunning verite style by Bert Glennon, the film has some truly stunning nightscapes with some very inventive lighting and tells the tale of Steve Lacey(Gene Nelson), an ex con, but a good guy at heart, who is now married to the stalwart Ellen(Phyllis Kirk) and is successfully going straight. Lacey receives a late night phone call from someone who doesn't identify themselves, Lacey worries that its his past come back to haunt him, he isn't wrong, within minutes a wounded ex cell mate of his from San Quentin is at his door looking for refuge, his wounds the results of a nearby brutal killing of a policeman at a gas station holdup. Before Lacey can do anything his guest dies, he rings his parole officer looking for help, but before he can do the right thing, the belligerent toothpick chewing Sims arrives at his door determined to pin the crime on him, the dead body only compounds Lacey's fate. Hayden is superb in the role and gives a very naturalistic performance in what is in some ways a semi documentary style of film, there's also a host of great supporting roles for the likes of Ted de Corsia and Charles Bronson who complete the hold up gang and also a really entertaining and utterly scene stealing "performance" by the truly psychotic Timothy Carey. Crime Wave is really well paced hard boiled Noir and at a paltry 73 minutes it passes all too quickly, it also has the distinction of being a rather important influence on Kubrick's The Killing which has a similar look and also most of the same cast. As my first viewing from the newly released Warner Film Noir Volume 4 boxset, I found it an unmitigated success, there's also a hilarious and very entertaining commentary from Noir luminaries Eddie Muller and James Ellroy, although the latters barking like a dog does grate just a little
  • Warning: Spoilers
    1954's "Crime Wave" would be considered nothing more than an exploitation film in the hands of a less capable director than the prolific Andre De Toth. That said, without the exceptional acting talents of people like Sterling Hayden, Phyllis Kirk, and a very young Charles Bronson, this film would've come off as strictly amateurish, at best. The plot is almost too simple and there's virtually no twists, unlike other movies of this genre. The only brief surprise is when all the bad guys get mowed down at the end due to the actions of a police informant. Since these fellows deserve what's coming to them, the audience sheds no tears. Sterling Hayden's role as Detective Sims is straight out of "Dragnet." He's a fast talker, only wants the facts, and chain smokes cigarettes when he's not chomping on a toothpick. If he isn't a parody of an LA police detective, I don't know who is. If there's any real allure to this film, it's the black-and-white cinematography of a 1950s Los Angeles. The city is barely recognizable except for the old City Hall building which sticks out in several scenes. There's no smog, no traffic, and no sunlight in this version of Los Angeles. No wonder there's a crime wave. Of special note is the casting of the great Timothy Carey in an uncredited part as a grinning maniacal thug. His wild-eyed lunacy is just the thing needed to perk up the proceedings and add some much-needed "color."
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