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273 - Thieves' Highway


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#1 Duke Togo

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Posted 27 February 2009 - 04:57 AM

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THIEVES’ HIGHWAY
Jules Dassin

United States • 1949 • 94 minutes • Black and White • 1.33:1 • English
Thieves’ Highway vividly depicts the perilous world of “long-haul boys,” who drive by night to bring their goods to the markets of America’s cities. Richard Conte stars as ex-G.I. Nick Garcos, a tyro trucker bent on satisfaction from the man responsible for crippling his father—ruthless market operator Mike Figlia (Lee J. Cobb). But when Figlia gets wise to his plan, Nick finds himself in a web of treachery and heartbreak. The Criterion Collection is proud to present this searing melodrama from master Jules Dassin.


DISC FEATURES
  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer
  • Audio commentary by Alain Silver, editor of Film Noir Reader and author of Raymond Chandler’s Los Angeles
  • New video interview with Jules Dassin
  • Trailer for The Long Haul of A.I. Bezzerides (2004), a new documentary on Bezzerides, author of the screenplay for Thieves’ Highway and the novel on which it was based
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired
  • Plus: a new essay by film critic Michael Sragow


#2 Duke Togo

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Posted 27 February 2009 - 04:58 AM

NOTES:


#3 clydefro

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Posted 29 March 2009 - 10:03 PM

I think Night and the City is a better film, possibly Rififi too, but nothing I've seen from Dassin so illuminated how great of a director he was as Thieves' Highway. There's a lot going on here. The plot isn't dense but it is incredibly active and full. There's leftist subtext, some exceptional imagery and a generally dark tone that Dassin still manages to let hang over the film without so obviously descending into dourness. It's really a remarkable studio effort and especially impressive for how Dassin could shake away from Mark Hellinger's shadow to deliver something of such mainstream viability while still letting it be obviously idiosyncratic.

#4 Lawrence

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Posted 20 September 2010 - 02:05 PM

Look Kid This Ain't No Lace Pants Business.

What better way is there to plug an hour and a half gap on a rainy Monday evening than this? As always with old films I love the lack of back story/character development that drags modern films way into the 120 minute mark. Everything that happens in this film happens briskly and more importantly for a point, and a lot does happen. It's a perfect film, although I do wonder how the tyre was fixed on the truck when Nico drives off at the end. Dassin doesn't play by the rules, we're introduced to Rica by a dolly away from her rather than towards her. Nico even ends up with the tramp rather than the love of his life, and hell even good old Ed buys the farm, not the bad guys that are pushing him all the way through the film. The more you watch, the more you see - Rica only carries her handbag properly (by the handles) at the end of the film, after Nico declares that she is his woman. Which I would take to mean that before this she wasn't seen as feminine in the Hollywood sense of the word until that moment. How great is the shot of the apples rolling down the hill? First when they load the truck and try to gyp the farmer and then later when Ed stacks it. I love the way the film gets darker in tone once the sun comes up, I love the start with Pop and his missing legsIn fact I love everything about this film, even the tacked on mad cops wagging their fingers ending. God it must have been hard to be a visionary director in the studio system back then. I need to see more by Dassin, can anyone suggest anything outside of what is in the CC already?

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#5 Izo

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Posted 20 September 2010 - 02:11 PM

I'm with you, Lawrence, sincerely. I've said before that Jules Dassin is my favorite discovery through Criterion, as I probably never would have heard of him otherwise. I positively adore all five of his CC films, but I haven't ventured beyond them. In the upcoming weeks, a French/Italian co-production he made called The Law is going to become available on DVD, and I really need to pick up the OOP-but-still-reasonably-priced Never On Sunday and 10:30 PM Summer, as well as his John Wayne WWII flick Reunion in France and Topkapi. He's also got a film released by Warners Archive, The Canterville Ghost.

If I'm not mistaken, I think that's it for Dassin on DVD.

#6 clydefro

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Posted 23 September 2010 - 01:35 AM

Don't forget we have a dedicated Dassin thread here! I'm tentatively planning on writing something to address his work outside of the Criterion Collection because I can see where there would be a real interest in that. After just seeing The Law, it and 10:30 PM Summer are the two I'd most recommend. But everything he directed after the MGM stuff (which he seemed to be ashamed of) is worth savoring for its clear adherence to a style that not everyone recognizes. The key, in my opinion, is to think of theatricality without melodrama and then combine that with philosophical undertones and sweat, which always has some kind of function in Dassin's pictures.

#7 Izo

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Posted 07 May 2014 - 12:32 PM

I've just watched this film for the fourth or fifth time and my love for it just deepens.  What I particularly noticed on this viewing are how strong the performances are.  Richard Conte and Valentina Cortesa are just fine, but it's Jack Oakie and Lee J. Cobb who really steal the show for me.  Cobb we've seen in this role before, and he's as good as he ever with a barely contained brushfire just beneath the surface.  I don't know that I've ever seen Oakie given a juicier supporting role, though.  As the character starts out he seems like Oakie's usual comedic bully-type - not dissimilar from what he did in Chaplin's The Great Dictator, really - but as the film unfolds (and it really is more riveting than you'd ever expect a movie about apples to be) the character is able to become more somber, even sad and with a hint of vengeful rage, and Oakie has one real heartbreaker of a scene where he says more with his eyes than the dialogue even approaches.

 

Dassin seems to have a special affinity for immigrant characters.  I think they may play a large part in every film of his I've seen. 



#8 Duke Togo

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Posted 08 May 2014 - 12:08 PM

Yeah, it really is wonderful, and an easy one to watch again and again. I enjoyed the 180 with Oakie and Pevney, their support in the last half was very touching. Too bad the ending seems so studio-imposed, I know that wasn't what Dassin probably had in mind.



#9 Izo

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Posted 08 May 2014 - 01:50 PM

Definitely not. Selznick stepped in, but even so I don't particularly mind it other than being kind of hoakie.




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