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Thieves’ Highway

USA 1949. Dir: Jules Dassin. 94 min. DCP

A California trucker seeks revenge against the racketeer who crippled his father in this high-octane, hard-as-nails (and underrated) noir from American neo-realist Jules Dassin (Brute Force, The Naked City, Night and the City), a champion of on-location shooting and social drama. Richard Conte is war veteran and rig driver Nick; Lee J. Cobb is ruthless San Francisco fruit-and-vegetable dealer Figlia; Hollywood newcomer Valentina Cortesa is streetwalker Rica, with whom Nick has a steamy relationship. Dassin’s feverish film was made from a novel and screenplay by noir writer A . I. Bezzerides (Desert Fury, On Dangerous Ground). “Brilliantly volatile ... Dassin’s best American movie” (Michael Sragow, The Criterion Collection). “You will never be able to eat an apple or tomato again without calling up visions of trickery, mayhem, vandalism, and violent death” (Bosley Crowther, New York Times).

REVIEWS

"The director’s final (and finest) film made in America before the House Un-American Committee exiled him to Europe."

Slant | full review

"Slots sleazy eroticism and rigorous action seamlessly together."

Time Out | full review