Crime Wave is a 1985 film made by Winnipeg-based filmmaker John Paizs shot between 1984 and 1986. The film is an homage to late 1940s-early 1950s "color crime pictures". Paizs plays Steven Penny, a struggling screenwriter who lives above the garage of a suburban family, and begins typing each night from the moment the street lamp comes on. Everything we learn about the character comes from Kim (Eva Kovacs), the family's daughter, who has a schoolgirl crush on him, as Penny never utters a word in the entire film.
Steven is able to write beginnings and endings, but not middles, and we are treated to some of these amusing endings and rather repetitive beginnings that introduce several characters from various geographic regions to settle upon the film's hero "from the North".
The film is designed to emulate the look and feel of educational films from the period. Randolph Peters includes a flute and glockenspiel-based score emulating such films (the film concludes with a song based on this theme that discusses the possibility of Steven and Kim getting married sung by a small 1950s-style pop chorus). When Steven Penny is brought into some shady deals, the film takes on more of a neo noir look and sound, inflected with surrealism. In one of the film's signature images is of the street lamp smashed over Steven's head, which he wears home.
Because of Sam Raimi's similarly-titled Crimewave released around the same time, the film's period-style title cards are spoiled by "THE BIG" chyroned-in over the title to match Cinema Group Home Video's videocassette covers proclaiming the film The Big Crimewave. The film has more in common with Paizs's friend and associate Guy Maddin than it does with Raimi's faster-paced and nearly as surreal film.