Friday, August 4, 2017
THIEVES' HIGHWAY (1949)
Directed By: Jules Dassin
Written & Based On The Novel By: A.I. Bezzerides
Cinematography By: Norbert Brodine
Editor: Nick DeMaggio
Cast: Richard Conte, Valentina Cortese, Lee J. Cobb, Barbara Lawrence, Jack Oakie, Millard Mitchell, Jospeh Pevney
A war-veteran-turned-truck driver attempts to avenge the crippling and robbing of his father at the hands of an amoral produce scofflaw. What I like about this film is that inherently it is a simple film. It's has a simple premise that has monkey wrench a thrown into plans that generally shock the audience as considering the time it came out. It has such a cynical heart and unpleasent scenes mixed in with some they are more jolly.
It ends up becoming partially a good natured film noir that seems more a film about getting justice or at least getting back what was lost. Then introduces so many cards and plays that cross one another
The films also kind of has it's own stopwatch on the other supply men on their way to San Francisco and they keep breaking down as you know when they get there things will blow up and yet come to an end. So as we keep getting reminded of them the film Mostly take place with the protagonist and his adventures dealing with the crooked salesman and the cons and fatale they throw at him. While Also fighting being exhausted. From all that is going on around him and in quick succession.
Though when that does arrive it signals not the end but the beginning of the third act.
The film is simple but quite something to look at while not as beautiful visually as director Jules Dassin's previous films this film is still pretty though he doesn’t have as big a canvas on which to project the images.
In this film The characters are more age appropriate though you would think the lead would look a bit younger. Especially in t he way that he makes decisions and his general attitude. Nothing against Richard Conte's performance at all.
Dana Andrews and Victor Mature were early suggestions for the role played by Richard Conte.
The film stays vital throughout. As you each things unfold the film manages to get reactions from you. Not so much emotional but more cerebrally.
Especially as it always tends to keep you guessing. Not in the edge of your seat kind. More in a questioning kid. Where you wonder where exactly this so going. And how is it going to end. You suspect it won't end well but you keep Hoping it will. As most of the characters are actually Likeable to a degree the competition for hauling the cargo even the villain. Though they pretty much telegraph his bad intentions and the lengths he will go.
The title tells you all you need to know no matter what.
It’s a shame this was Dassin's last film, not a bad one to go out on as it is nothing less then captivating, by you just wonder what would his films had been like in the future especially in the decades that lay ahead in which he might be forced to use color as black and white was obviously his preferred medium And he knew how to use to his advantage. A precursor to cinematographer Gordon Willis he was known as the Prince of darkness. Between this and THE NAKED CITY Dassin's as a director was no slouch himself.
One thing about classic films the clothes and the characters. I matter how dirty or underclass they were supposed to be they always seem somewhat classy die to the clothes and just the general attitude and manners a bygone era.
The film has a dark heart, though not as defeatist and hard edged as a true film noir. More a promising revenge tale that becomes one only over time and out of habit. As the villain is so dastardly he couldn't leave well enough alone.
The characters seem to be earnest and loud mouthed not cut out for the way of life. Only by being brought down to that level to prosper though better then they at heart. As even the character who seems more a comic relief at first turns out to have more depth.
As even the females the more questionable one ends up maybe having the heart of gold and the good girl the more untrustworthy or deceitful heart.
Fueled by a lust of money though deserved or owed, seems to be the downfall and driving force of the story. Not so much greed