Many years ago I caught this strange gem on TV. A low budget reworking of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment set in Los Angeles starring a youthful George Hamilton.
In Crime and Punishment USA (Dir Denis Sanders), I was struck by the great Ivy style of the main protaganist, Robert Cole (Raskolnikov, geddit?). This guy was wearing East Coast boom years Ivy but in LA, amongst the more traditional Hollywood styled actors. The West Coast jazz look of open necked loop collared shirts and lightweight baggy pants took some shifting as the Ivy League mania spread from the East Coast down to the South and across to the Pacific.
San Francisco of course had a climate that favoured such clothes, but it’s odd to see George Hamilton wandering around LA in his buckle back chinos and 3/2 roll cord jacket. (Although we know that a certain ‘Fred’ currently carries the Ivy torch in the City of Angels, even though he’s often mistaken for an airline pilot!). It’s only 1959 so the clothes George was wearing were very hip – it would be some time before ‘the look’ came to dominate the dress of American males and so young George must be up there as an early Ivy icon.
The movie has some of the usual low budget haminess but there are some great scenes between Hamilton and the police lieutenant played with real skill by Jamaican born actor Frank Silvera (no mention is made to his race, which was daring at the time) and almost a role model for the later Columbo.
The soundtrack is also completely bonkers featuring a mix of great west coast jazz sound with some truly mad distorted troll like mutterings (like Finnish Matti Oiling’s Oiling Boiling track)
The DVD is deleted and was only available in the US and because of that the fascists that determine such things have decreed that I can’t play a disk I’ve bought and paid for on my UK Mac (even though the set top DVD box doesn’t care), I’ve had to take photos from the TV screen, so apologies for murky quality. The movie copy itself is fine and well worth seeking out before it disappears once more into total obscurity.
Click on the images to enlarge them…
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