Crime Wave (De Toth, 1954)

Crime Wave (André De Toth, 1954)

I’m really beginning to think that film noir is not for me. When I can watch this and realize that what I’m seeing is probably one of the best available in the genre and still only muster up casual excitement for it, that’s probably not a good sign. Crime Wave is a fantastic technical achievement for sure, using techniques that would later be famously recognized as French New Wave. The ‘imperfect’ picture where faces are at times shadowed, characters get dangerously close to running into the camera, and the image moves and bounces helps bring viewers closer to the happenings. Since noir often feels distant to me, this feature is a plus.

However, there is still a distance created by what I would consider a poor relationship focus decision. The interesting ex-con/good wife relationship is pushed to the background for the trite and cold cop/ex-con conflict. Yes, we get it. The hard-nosed cop thinks the ex-con can never fully escape his past even though the ex-con has changed. Not that an ex-con/good wife relationship doesn’t run the same dangerous route towards cliché, but the way De Toth handles their introduction illustrates a passion and mutual respect often omitted in this scenario. I was impressed by a lot of what I saw, but the film’s inability to completely escape the downfalls of the genre keep this reaching its full potential.  8/10


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