Thieves’ Highway (1949)
Director: Jules Dassin
Screenplay by: A. I. Bezzerides based on his novel Thieves’ Market
Starring: Richard Conte, Valentina Cortese, Lee J. Cobb, Barbara Lawrence, Jack Oakie, Millard Mitchell, Joseph Pevney and Jules Dassin
Tagline: Rackets Ride The Roads!
The Overview: Beware of spoilers
Nick Garcos (Conte) returns home from the war with plans to marry his girl and start a business. When Nick learns that his father, a trucker, was crippled due to a crooked produce dealer named Mike Figlia (Cobb), Nick decides to get revenge. Nick underestimates Figlia and realizes he’s in over his head too late…
Thieves’ Highway is another excellent film that I might have missed if not for Eddie Mueller and TCM. Richard Conte is excellent as the honest, headstrong son looking to avenge his father. Lee J. Cobb presents just the right amount of attitude playing the smug, tough (yet truly cowardly) dirty businessman. It was humorous that everyone knew what a creep Figla was, but they had to deal with him. Jackie Oakie provides some comedy relief.
If there was any nit I would pick, it would be the love subplot. Nick seems ready to switch his allegiance pretty quickly. And just as fast we learn that his fiancé loves money/security more than Nick. The subplot does provide a fun scene with Nick talking on the phone to his girl in a crowded bar full of men ready to join in.
Thieves’ Highway was a fun ride and it earns 4 of 5 stars.