Thieves' Highway DVD
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Directed by Jules Dassin
Produced in 1949
Main Language - English
Countries & Regions - American film
Richard Conte plays the man who takes to the gruelling world of road transport to exact revenge on a villanous produce dealer. It's one of the finest noir melodramas, says Pasquale Iannone.
Arguably Jules Dassinís finest American film, Thievesí 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 Corleoneís wily nemesis Barzini in The Godfather Ė 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 fatherís 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 Thievesí Market), the film remains one of Dassinís 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.
In Thieves' Highway - one of the best noir melodramas, made by Jules Dassin at the height of his career - Richard Conte plays war veteran Nico, who takes to the road hauling fruit to avenge the death of his brother at the hands of merciless racketeer Mike Figlia. Along the way he is seduced by siren Rica (Valentina Cortese) and drawn into the San Francisco produce racket, landing him in a web of treachery and heartbreak.
Publisher: 20th Century Fox
Length: 91 mins
Aspect ratio: 1.33:1
Format: DVD B&W
Released: 23rd April 2007
Cat No: 3009901009
Subtitles: Dutch, French, German, Italian , Hard of Hearing - English