Thieves\' Highway View large image

Film Details

Directed by: Jules Dassin

Produced: 1949

Countries & Regions: United States

DVD Details

Certificate: 12

Format: DVD

Region: Region 2

Released: 23 April 2007

Cat No: 3009901009

Languages(s): English
Hard of Hearing Subtitles: English
Subtitles: Dutch, French, German, Italian
Interactive Menu
Screen ratio 1:1.33
Dolby Mono

Moviemail Details

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Thieves\' Highway

Cast: Jack Oakie , Valentina Cortese , Lee J. Cobb , Richard Conte , Millard Mitchell , Morris Carnovsky , Tamara Shayne , Barbara Lawrence , Joseph Pevney , Kasia Orzazewski

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Classic drama based on the novel by A. I. Bezzerides. Former G.I. Nick Garcos (Richard Conte) is a tyro trucker bent on satisfaction from... Read More

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Classic drama based on the novel by A. I. Bezzerides. Former G.I. Nick Garcos (Richard Conte) is a tyro trucker bent on satisfaction from the man responsible for crippling his father, ruthless market operator, Mike Figlia (Lee J. Cobb). Along the way he is seduced by siren Rica (Valentina Cortesa) and drawn into the San Francisco produce racket, landing him in a web of treachery and heartbreak.

Arguably Jules Dassin’s finest American film, Thieves’ Highway is a high-octane melodrama about exploitation, extortion and revenge in the San Francisco fruit markets. Richard Conte - best known for his performance as Don Corleone’s wily nemesis Barzini in The Godfather – stars as Nick Garcos, an idealistic WWII veteran who returns home after a stint traveling in the Far East to find his father confined to a wheelchair after a run-in with lugubrious produce dealer Mike Figlia.

Fuelled by a desire for revenge, Nick commandeers his father’s truck and heads for San Francisco with grizzled driver/mechanic Ed and a precious cargo of apples. Through montage and multi-exposure effects, Dassin expertly evokes the grueling, perilous nature of life on the road: shots of the ramshackle trucks chugging and spluttering along the highway are interspersed with shots of Nick, hunched over the wheel, struggling to stay awake as hour follows hour, mile follows mile.

The Californian fruit markets are presented as a bustling canvas of (mainly Italian) immigrant life over which Mike Figlia casts a villainous shadow. Feared and loathed by fellow dealers, he is played with scene-chewing brilliance by Lee J. Cobb (five years before his famous role opposite Marlon Brando in On The Waterfront).

Written by Al Bezzerides (from his own novel Thieves’ Market), the film remains one of Dassin’s finest noir thrillers and is driven by two strong central performances by Conte and Cobb as well as an eclectic supporting cast. The film blends tough, explosive action with sly sexuality and features Valentina Cortese in her first English-language role as the unconventional femme fatale Rica.

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