Thursday, February 19, 2009

Crime Wave

(1954, USA, 73m, b/w)
d André de Toth p Bryan Foy sc Bernard Gordon, Crane Wilbur, Richard Wormser ph Bert Glennon ed Thomas Reilly ad Stanley Fleischer m David Buttolph cast Sterling Hayden, Gene Nelson, Phyllis Kirk, Ted de Corsia, Charles Buchinsky (ie Bronson), Jay Novello, Timothy Carey

Following House of Wax, De Toth’, Wilbur and Foy toughen up with the story of ex-con Nelson whose former cell-mates won’t let him go straight. Warner resignedly allowed them off the lot and to shoot mostly at night, and dividends are paid not only in the direct-documentary style of the terrific opening (a midnight gas-station hold-up), but also in the small-hour police station scenes, and sticking up the actual Glendale Bank of America. The shadows crawl, literally and figuratively: Nelson is torn between his girl (Kirk) and the life of crime he is unable to escape, whilst Sterling Hayden is the tough cop disgusted with his dirty job, and no less with himself, painfully aware of the gap between the inviolable law and common sympathy for another human being, except unlike Nelson, he can handle it without the bellyaching. Touches of social conscience, a loony cameo from grinning Timothy Carey, and brooding Charles Bronson round out the package: nasty brutish and short, no less.

© Time Out Film Guide

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