Pulpy Retro "Dime Crimes #34" a Smart and Slick Genre Defying Flick

"DIME CRIMES #34" (2015)
Genre: Drama
Length- 18:11
Company: Rebel, Rebel Productions
Website: Official

Doll (Ashlee Mundy) is a timid bookworm living a mundane life in the 1950's with her fiancee, Jack (John Michael Wagner).  When a greaser going by the name of Bug (Jimmy Dalton) rents a room under their roof, he brings with him a gun, a bag full of cash and an allure straight out of the colorful crime fiction Doll voraciously reads.

Young and naive, Doll's an easy target for Bug and his charming yet bad boy down-to-Earth attitude . . .


"Dime Crimes #34" is a short film produced by the Tony Award winning and Emmy nominated John Benjamin Hickey.  Inspired by the smart script written by co-star Wagner, director Ed Hellman crafts a bleak vision of a sad and bored woman who only finds solace in the fantasy of what she reads.  Once Bug enters the picture, her fantasies seem set to explode into the real world -- and explode they do.

The most fascinating decision made here is the way that the character Doll is treated.  After a lifetime of being pushed around and compartmentalized as a female in the 1950's, she makes the decision to assert herself and she does it in a believable way worthy of applause.

With the exception of the opening scene which unfolded a bit too slowly for my liking, Hellman's directing is energetic and keeps the camera moving.  Cinematographer Jaime Medrano Jr.  creates a visual world that looks great on camera, even in the most banal of locations.  The acting is impressive, the authentic sounding music courtesy of Bosley grounds the film in its historical reality, the editing is solid.  The production values as a whole are stellar.  This film could play theatrically and, apart from the length, you'd never know the difference between a big budget production and this one.

The finale was funny and poignant, bringing the events onscreen full circle to the very fiction Doll reads -- the way fantasy takes over the real world is brilliant.


Writing: 4 / 5.  Wagner's script knows exactly what it wants to be and it not only works, it entertains.
Directing: 4 / 5.  Hellman's work is effective without being intrusive.  There are no major trick shots or "auteur moments", and I liked that.  He tells the story and becomes a part of the film, rather than becoming a flowery show-off.  It's a mature style, one that would be nice to see more often in the film industry.
Editing: 3.5 / 5.  The pacing is, by and large, extremely well done and the coloring looks fantastic.  The beginning is a little slow -- more than likely intentional so that we get a nice big dose of the boredom that Doll goes through every day.  At one point, Bug asks Doll if she wants to go, and then we cut to a small room, and Bug jumps up and down on the bed.  I assumed they ran away together, but in actuality it was just another room in Doll's house.  It was a confusing transition.
Sound/Music: 5 / 5.  I much enjoyed Bosley's '50s-style rock and roll music.  I honestly thought it was genuine music from the period until I watched the end credits.  His style meshed SO well with this film.  Also, the sound design was top notch and the volumes felt level, and background noise was brought down to a minimum.
Acting: 4 / 5.  Really, really solid acting from everyone involved.  Dalton steals the show as Bug, and he comes off as one cool cat, emulating James Dean at every turn and doing it well.  Mundy slips into Doll's skin so well that, toward the end, it became almost uncomfortable to watch her -- her performance is top notch.  Wagner is stuck being the straight -- Jack went to college, works at a job, and pretty much ignores his wife at every opportunity.  Still, he does admirably with what he's written.

Final Grade: 4.1 / 5.  

"Dime Crimes #34" is currently making its way through the festival circuit.  Check out the official website to see when it's coming near your town and DON'T miss it!  Also follow the film's progress on Facebook. 

I'll post more information when "Dime Crimes #34" makes its official online debut!  Until then, check out the trailer by clicking here!

"Dime Crimes #34" is officially an HONORABLE MENTION for FOREST CITY SHORT FILM REVIEW'S MUST SEE SHORT FILMS of 2015!  Check it out right here!

Thanks for reading! I'm a screenwriter and script consultant. Most recently, I've worked with LMC Productions and Mad Antz Films in Australia. I helped mold Goodybag Productions' award winning screenplay "The Teacher" and Michael Maguire's feature length script "The Wolfpack", which is still in development.

Check out my blog and let's get in touch!