CRIME WAVE

New digital restoration, including the rarely-seen original ending!

In September of 1985, director John Paizs brought his newly finished first feature, the brilliant and surreal indie comedy CRIME WAVE, to premiere at Toronto’s Festival of Festivals. It didn’t go well. A sound problem interrupted the screening, the audience was lost, and Paizs returned to his home in Winnipeg with the idea to retool the ending. A new ending was shot, and while reviews were good and the film proved influential in its home country – launching the “prairie postmodern” film movement – distribution problems kept the movie from wide release.

While CRIME WAVE has recently seen a resurgence in interest in the indie film community, touring the US in 2014 and making festival appearances since, that original ending was thought lost – that is, until Paizs and Matchbox Cine unearthed the original 16mm print of the film, which received its initial repertory screening at Spectacle in New York City in 2021. The Roxie is proud to present Matchbox Cine’s new digital preservation, created from the director’s own 16mm print, as part of their Tales from Winnipeg series, also including documentary TALES FROM THE WINNIPEG FILM GROUP and Guy Maddin’s feature COWARDS BEND THE KNEE with a new score composed by Ela Orleans!

CRIME WAVE centers on an awkward loner, Steven Penny (John Paizs), who turns out bizarre scenarios for colour crime movies. Steven wants to turn in the best colour crime movie ever, but he has a problem – he can only write beginnings and ends to his scripts. No middles! Living above a family garage in suburbia and befriended by the landlord’s ten-year-old daughter (Eva Kovacs), we see excerpts from a number of Steven’s scripts, zany ideas based on get-rich-quick schemes. Finally frustrated by his creative block, he sets out for Kansas to meet Dr Jolly (Neil Lawrie), the script doctor.

Featuring wild sight gags, vibrant color, hilarious performances and uncommon insight into Winnipeg traffic control strategies, CRIME WAVE is fast-paced, clever, and full of surprises, a true delight.

Directed by John Paizs. USA. 1985. 80 min. DCP.


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