When I ran across Crimewave at the Buttons video store at N.W. 63rd and May Avenue in 1988, I had never heard of it. However, I rented it as soon as I spotted that it was co-written by Joel and Ethan Coen; at the time, they had just made this little comedy I absolutely adored, called Raising Arizona.
And while 1985’s Crimewave is no 1987’s Raising Arizona, I instantly could see how the latter was visually and tonally influenced by the former. Both are cartoons come to life; only one enjoys household-name status. Perhaps the fact that it’s finally hit DVD — not to mention Blu-ray — can help remedy that. A man can dream.
The movie carries a storyline of classic film noir, but then heaves it over the fence whereupon it tumbles down a hill and into a ditch with standing sewage, because being goofy is the flick’s M.O. It’s about a man hiring two guys to kill his business partner, which they do, but the homicidal act is conducted not without a witness. And, of course, the hit men’s plan is enacted not without a patsy.
Reed Birney (Netflix’s House of Cards) plays that patsy, in a role meant for Bruce Campbell — a fact Campbell reminds listeners of several times in his engaging, gregarious and gloriously honest commentary. Which actor complained a lot? What line wouldn’t pass muster today? Who can be spotted with cocaine on his nose? Bruce tells all! His talk is not the primary reason to snap up this Shout! Factory release, but it’s a close second. —Rod Lott