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Thieves' Highway (Criterion Collection) (1949)

Cast: Richard Conte, Richard Conte, Valentina Cortese, more...
Director: Jules Dassin, Jules Dassin
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Studio: Criterion
Genre: Drama, Film Noir, Crime, Criterion Collection
Running Time: 94 min.
Languages: English
Subtitles: English
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Thieves' Highway is set in San Francisco and the surrounding countryside. Richard Conte plays Nick Garcos, an American GI who returns from WWII to find that his father Yanko (Morris Carnovsky), a produce trucker, has lost the use of both legs because of a fight with crooked truck driver Mike Figlia (Lee J. Cobb). Nick is a clean-cut guy who was set on marrying his sweetheart Polly Faber (Barbara Lawrence). Instead, Nick gets embroiled in his father's feud with Mike, buying a truck and falling deeper into racketeering. He delivers a truckload of apples to Mike as part of a scheme to expose his cheating. A prostitute, Rica (Valentina Cortesa), tells Nick that Mike has his own plot to trap him. Nick and Rica help Mike's henchmen learn that Mike has also been cheating them, and Nick eventually gets his revenge. But Nick has permanently lost Polly because of his involvement with the gangsters and his change in personality from a good guy to a more sinister businessman. Director Jules Dassin was blacklisted from Hollywood for supposed communist sympathies after making this 1949 picture, but he went on to have success with more caper movies while in exile in France. ~ Michael Betzold, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

A Fine Director, in Fine Form by talltale November 1, 2005 - 5:01 AM PST
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful
THIEVES HIGHWAY is another good but little-known film by Jules Dassin, who is slowly becoming one of my favorite directors, thanks to the DVD release of many of his early films, all of which seem much better than the two he is probably best known for in the US: "Never on Sunday" and "Topkapi." His pre-"blacklist" films are of-the-people in a hands-on, gritty way that is a pleasure to see today, and "Thieves Highway" is one of his best.

Released to DVD by Criterion in its usual, near-perfect transfer, the movie features wonderful performances from the likes of Jack Oakie, Millard Mitchell, Morris Carnovsky and Lee J. Cobb, along with perhaps Richard Conte's best-of-career. Italian actress Valentina Cortese made a rare appearance in an American movie (she's made nearly 100 films/TV films in her 65-year career), and she's quite good. The film also boasts, in these days of digital enhancement, one of the finest car/action scenes that I can recall, topped off with a shot of rolling apples that is simply marvelous.

Dassin understands the importance of work. He's fascinated with jobs and the marketplace, and his movie makes meaningful the life of truckers and their driving need to get those fresh fruit and vegetables to market. Full of nice "extras," the DVD offers yet another good interview with the director, as well as a little trailer for a documentary about the writer, A.I. Bezzerides. I hope we get to see the finished documentary someday soon.

Another Dassin Must by JLevendos April 16, 2005 - 10:11 PM PDT
1 out of 2 members found this review helpful
Despite Zanuck's conventional additions (see the Dassin interview, also included), the film has some praiseworthy performances and a tight script. It's a film that is well worth the time.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.39)
74 Votes
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