Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


THIEVES' HIGHWAY (1949). Director: Jules Dassin.

Nick Garcos (Richard Conte) comes home from the war and discovers that his father, a trucker, was crippled in a horrible accident caused by a corrupt man named Figlia (Lee J. Cobb). Nick enters the trucking business himself by hauling apples with a partner named Ed (Millard Mitchell) and gets involved with two women, a "good" girl named Polly (Barbara Lawrence), and a hooker named Rica (Valentina Cortese). Conte gives a terrific lead performance but the drama is kind of weak; relationships are not well-delineated. It's no surprise that the most memorable scenes have to do with action: the suspenseful business when Nick is nearly crushed under his truck when he tries to change a blown out tire; and the harrowing moments with Ed's runaway truck when his brakes fail. There's way too much talk about apples early in the picture. Cobb is as good as ever in a typical role for him, but Millard Mitchell nearly walks off with the movie as Ed. The two ladies would have made more of an impression had their roles not been so under-written. Jack Oakie, of all people, makes a strong impression in a serious role as a trucker named "Slob."

Verdict: On the Waterfront it ain't. **.

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