Crime Wave is a classic film noir from 1954 staring Sterling Hayden as a police detective this time instead of the criminal. This film is Directed by André De Toth who made this film under budget and in only 13 days! The studio scheduled this for a 35 day shot and De Toth said he could do it in 15, he beat that. The studio wanted Ava Gardner and Humphrey Bogart, but De Toth said he could do this faster and come in under budget if he got to pick the stars. De Toth wanted Hayden and this is how he got him.
For me Gene Nelson is the center of the story and this was his first dramatic role. He was more known as a dancer and appeared in a number of musicals. Phyllis Kirk plays Nelson’s wife and pretty much is just a pretty face in this. Nelson of course is trying to keep her safe, but Kirk really is hard to read in this role as the sacred housewife. Timothy Carey has a small uncredited role, but it stood out to me. The biggest small role goes to Charles Buchinsky who plays one of the thugs that recently escaped prison. Buchinsky is a scary tough guy with a hard edge to him, he later changed his name to something you may recognize, Charles Bronson.
Our story starts out with three escaped convicts robbing a gas station. They get away but one is shot and not doing to well. Hayden is the lead detective on the case and one of his leads is an old prison cellmate who is trying to get his life on the straight and narrow(played by Nelson). He is married now and has a good job, but Hayden is suspicious. Soon the shot escapee shows up at Nelson’s apartment with a veterinarian that is known to work on the occasional injured criminal. The doctor is too late and the man dies in Nelson’s apartment. Soon Hayden shows up at the apartment and all hell breaks loose.
This is a very good movie all film noir fans will love. It is also a great film for Hayden fans as well as Bronson fans who would like to see some of his early work.
Favorite Tidbit: This movie was an inspiration for part of Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs and part of the screenplay is dedicated to director André De Toth.