Crime Wave (1954): On The Streets of LA

Crime Wave 1954

An ex-con trying to stay clean is sucked into a bank heist when a former cell-mate turns-up at his apartment after a late night gas-station smash and grab goes wrong and a cop is killed.

Andre de Toth’s Crime Wave (1954) gives star billing to Sterling Hayden as the LAPD homicide detective hunting down the killers, but all major players in this police procedural have equal presence. From the gas-station attendant to the crooked vet who patches up wounded hoods on the run, and the aging parole officer woken in the night by a call from one of his ‘boys’, each character is deeply drawn.

A very tight story of 74 minutes played out on the streets of LA, has a feel so authentic, you think it happened yesterday and for real. The noir theme of an inescapable past propels the drama at a personal level in the claustrophobic constraints of an apartment, while out on the streets and in police headquarters the camera observes the manhunt with detachment and precision.

A masterwork.

Crime Wave 1954  Crime Wave 1954

Crime Wave 1954   Crime Wave 1954

3 Comments

  1. Lee

    Saw this last night as well. Streamed in terrific HD, thanks to my new favorite website, warner archive instant. This is a fabulous film. You can definitely seen the evolution of the the art of motion pictures here, since it has a more modern look and feel than any earlier film I’ve seen. It is readily apparent that gritty realistic look and feel was influential in crime films that came later. Sterling Hayden has an enthrallingly menacing presence, and the other actors were very good, as was the dialogue.

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