Archive for March 17th, 2011

Director: Jules Dassin

Producer: Robert Bassler

Screenwriter: A.I. Bezzerides

Cinematographer: Norbert Brodine

Music: Alfred Newman

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox 1949

Main Acting: Richard Conte, Valentina Cortese, and Lee J. Cobb

Social message picture or legitimate film noir? It is up to you, dear reader, to make a definitive judgement call. For me, Thieves Highway has always been a borderline noir that was Jules Dassin’s best picture up to that point in his career. The story of Nick Garcos (played by Richard Conte) returning home to his parents’ house after many years afar, only to find his father crippled and confined to a wheelchair has fewer common elements with the genre in question. The seemingly femme fatale, Rica (Valentina Cortese), is actually more of a hooker with a heart of gold than a scheming enchantress. Nick is far from a brooding doomed protagonist or character haunted by past demons (as an ex-soldier he doesn’t seem explicitly perturbed in any way). He is really a good guy that maybe is a bit naive about the real world or the fresh fruit market business he is entering. The best case Thieves Highway has of being placed in the genre is that it is a tough little movie with a pessimistic heart at its core. Dassin pulls no punches when showing the rotten side of the profession in question. Scheming produce market dealer will step on and scam anyone for a quick buck. Mike Figlia (Lee J. Cobb) is as ruthless and evil as Hume Cronyn’s Captain Munsey in Dassin’s earlier Brute Force. (more…)

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