IMDb > Crime Wave (1954)
Crime Wave
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Crime Wave (1954) More at IMDbPro »


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Crane Wilbur (screen play)
Bernard Gordon (adaptation) ...
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Release Date:
6 March 1954 (USA) See more »
Reformed parolee Steve Lacey is caught in the middle when a wounded former cellmate seeks him out for shelter. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
(23 articles)
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User Reviews:
"Murder is my business and midnight is my beat." See more (48 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Sterling Hayden ... Det. Lt. Sims

Gene Nelson ... Steve Lacey

Phyllis Kirk ... Ellen Lacey

Ted de Corsia ... 'Doc' Penny

Charles Bronson ... Ben Hastings (as Charles Buchinsky)
Jay Novello ... Dr. Otto Hessler
Nedrick Young ... Gat Morgan (as Ned Young)
James Bell ... Daniel O'Keefe

Dub Taylor ... Gus Snider (as Dubb Taylor)
Gayle Kellogg ... Detective Kelly
Mack Chandler ... Detective Sully
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Iris Adrian ... Hastings' Girlfriend (uncredited)
Joe Bassett ... Cop (uncredited)
Charles Cane ... Detective (uncredited)

Timothy Carey ... Johnny Haslett (uncredited)
Tom Clarke ... Salvation Army Singer (uncredited)
Fred Coby ... Cop in Squad Car (uncredited)

Doris Day ... Herself - Radio Singer (voice) (uncredited)
Dennis Dengate ... Police Officer (uncredited)
Eileen Elliott ... 4th Police Broadcaster (uncredited)
Fritz Feld ... Jess (uncredited)
Charles Ferguson ... Detective / Bank Officer (uncredited)
Diane Fortier ... 1st Police Broadcaster (uncredited)
Kit Guard ... Barfly at Counter (uncredited)
Jim Hayward ... Zenner (uncredited)
Mary Alan Hokanson ... 2nd 1Police Broadcaster (uncredited)
Thomas E. Jackson ... Bank Guard (uncredited)
Fred Kelsey ... Old Man Crossing Street (uncredited)
Jack Kenney ... Lefty (uncredited)
Faith Kruger ... Salvation Army Singer (uncredited)
Lyle Latell ... Hoodlum at Counter (uncredited)
Harry Lauter ... Roadblock Officer (uncredited)
Ruth Lee ... 3rd Police Broadcaster (uncredited)
Richard Lightner ... Mark (uncredited)
Bert Moorhouse ... Detective (uncredited)
Mary Newton ... Mrs. O'Keefe (uncredited)
Shirley O'Hara ... Girl with Bandaged Man (uncredited)
John Pickard ... Information Officer (uncredited)
George Ross ... Cop (uncredited)
Ted Ryan ... Bank Janitor (uncredited)
Sandy Sanders ... Cop (uncredited)
Bill Schroff ... Delivery Man (uncredited)
John Veitch ... Information Officer (uncredited)
Shirley Whitney ... Girl (uncredited)
Guy Wilkerson ... Beer-Drinker at Counter (uncredited)
Harry Wilson ... Parolee (uncredited)
Jack Woody ... Stoolie (uncredited)

Hank Worden ... Sweeney (uncredited)

Directed by
André De Toth 
Writing credits
Crane Wilbur (screen play)

Bernard Gordon (adaptation) and
Richard Wormser (adaptation)

John Hawkins (story "Criminal's Mark") and
Ward Hawkins (story "Criminal's Mark")

Produced by
Bryan Foy .... producer
Original Music by
David Buttolph 
Cinematography by
Bert Glennon (director of photography)
Film Editing by
Thomas Reilly 
Art Direction by
Stanley Fleischer 
Set Decoration by
William L. Kuehl 
Makeup Department
Gordon Bau .... makeup artist
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
James McMahon .... assistant director
Sound Department
Stanley Jones .... sound
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Moss Mabry .... wardrobe
Music Department
Maurice De Packh .... orchestrator (as Maurice de Packh)
Other crew
R.A. Lohrman .... technical advisor (as Capt. R.A. Lohrman)

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
73 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (RCA Sound System)

Did You Know?

A few seconds of footage in Crime Wave are borrowed from Gun Crazy (1950). When suspects are rounded up following the attack on the gas station, we see police cars stopping by the entrance of a police station and letting out their suspects. This piece of footage can be seen in Deadly Is The Female, just after the payroll holdup, when police launch their dragnet.See more »
Continuity: When Nedrick Young (as Gat Morgan) is first shot, he grabs his chest by the right pectoral. When he grabs his wound later, it has migrated to the lower center abdomen.See more »
Steve Lacey:How come the smart guys are inside and the dopes outside?See more »
Movie Connections:
Featured in Decoy: A Map to Nowhere (2007) (V)See more »
'S WonderfulSee more »


This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
13 out of 14 people found the following review useful.
"Murder is my business and midnight is my beat.", 30 June 2008
Author: TrevorAclea from London, England

"You know, it isn't what a man wants to do, Lacey, but what he has to do. Now you take me. I love to smoke cigarettes, but the doctors say I can't have them. So what do I do? I chew toothpicks. Tons of 'em." Developed as The City is Dark and shot as Don't Cry, Baby before being released as Crime Wave, Andre de Toth's still surprisingly tough police procedural is a film that wears its economy as a badge of pride. Offered a big budget and a 35-day shooting schedule if he made it with Humphrey Bogart and Ava Gardner, de Toth held out for Sterling Hayden even though it mean a fraction of the budget and a 15-day shooting schedule – and still managed to come in ahead and shoot the film in only 13 days. It was worth sticking to his guns. The film may have made little splash when it opened in 1954, but it's a near classic that fully deserves its growing reputation, and as the hardboiled cop who's all-knowing judge and jury, Hayden so effectively strides through the film like a colossus in a towering performance (literally: for much of the film he's shot from low angles) that it's impossible to imagine Bogart as being anything but a comparative disappointment in the role. The kind of guy who doesn't need doors because he can walk through walls, he doesn't act tough – he IS tough. He's practically the blueprint for L.A. Confidential's Bud White, and it's no surprise that James Ellroy is a big fan of the film, sharing an entertaining, occasionally expletive-deleted audio commentary with Eddie Muller on Warner's Region 1 DVD.

The plot is simple enough: a trio of escaped cons (Ted de Corsia, Charles Bronson when he was still Charles Buchinsky and Ned Young) kill a cop when robbing Dub Taylor's gas station for eating money and involve innocent parolee Gene Nelson, leaned on by cops and crooks alike, in their escape plans. But the execution is what raises the bar here, particularly in the first third when the police bring in all the usual suspects. Shot in an almost verite documentary style, the film has a great look thanks to Bert Glennon's striking cinematography – deep focus, harsh blacks and bright fluorescent whites often sharing the same frame, with such a stark photojournalistic realism that some of the setups could pass for Weegee's classic crime scene photos. It captures the feeling of L.A. at night like almost no other film, with outstanding location work and an unforgiving eye for human weakness and hopeless cases. It certainly takes some of the shine off Kubrick's subsequent The Killing – it certainly got there first in terms of its look, and it's probably no accident that Kubrick hired two of the cast for his own caper movie.

While its undoubtedly Hayden's movie, the supporting cast is for the most part exceptionally strong and well-drawn. Nelson is convincing enough as the bitter ex-con caught in the middle that it's a shame that the former dancer didn't go on to anything more interesting than directing some of Elvis' worst movies, Phyllis Kirk makes more of an impression as his wife than the script would lead you to expect while Jay Novello makes a big impact as a drunken horse doctor who hates people but loves dogs and has no scruples about rifling a corpse's pockets for services not rendered. Not everyone is quite so good, unfortunately: Bronson overdoes his dumb thug and a wildly miscast Hank Worden is barely able to deliver his lines as Nelson's airport boss (is there anyone you'd feel LESS safe being in charge of airplane maintenance than Hank Worden?). As for Timothy Carey's truly amazing display of psychotic tics as the last guy in the world you'd want to leave your wife with – well, since all his directors maintained Carey was never acting but really WAS like that offscreen as well, we can let that slide.

The film does briefly give into sentimentality at the end – though very, very begrudgingly – and it's never quite as good as that powerhouse first third, but it's certainly a sharp punch below the belt to the cop movie that you won't forget in a hurry. Along with a brief adulatory featurette with various noir historians and Oliver Stone waxing lyrical about the film, the DVD also includes the original trailer introduced by an in-character Hayden telling us "Murder is my business and midnight is my beat." Great stuff.

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