Da 5 Bloods
On the Record
I May Destroy You
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All of these films classified as "film noir" have three or four things in common:
1. The man is hysterical most of the time
2. Emotions run rampant and control his actions
3. Sitting down and rationally thinking things through never happens, It's all in the moment melodrama. With women of that time period, it was always called hysteria. It is the exact same thing with men, but they have escaped being pigeonholed with this label. But "hysteria" certainly fits the action of the men in question.
4. These are not just common, ordinary decent folk. In most films of this type, the "hero" is a few IQ points away from being average, but he always sits on the lower side of the scale. A man not capable of living life responsibly, unaware of the consequences of his actions, and willing to kill himself and everyone around him if his emotions take control (which is always).
These films are all depressing because the hero never thinks things through to realize that you CAN get back at the protagonist. To do it so that it means something takes mental control. Rational thought is excluded in film noir and only melodramatic action is encouraged. No doubt there is a large constituency for this type of dark emotional material. However, "male hysteria" might be a better monicker than "film noir".
There's so much to love about this Noir. But, there's also some really weak characters and scenes.
Richard Conte, Valentina Cortese, Lee J. Cobb, Barbara Lawrence, Jack Oakie, Millard Mitchell, Joseph Pevney. Tough postwar drama of a returning vet seeking to avenge his trucker/father's treatment at the hands of a crooked fruit dealer in San Francisco. Masterfully directed; script by A. I. Bezzerides, from his novel. Jules Dassin's excellent direction and the tense atmosphere make this a fine film noir well worth watching. Good acting by everyone in the cast. Dark and brooding, great pace.Excellent cinematography and use of light. 4 out of 5
Thieves’ Highway is a film about a man who returns from war to find things disrupted in his family by a deal gone bad, and he seeks to get his revenge. At least I think that’s what he wanted to do. Things got muddled pretty quickly when the entire focus of the film diverted from revenge to hauling and selling apples. I was confused if the main character even remembered what his goal was, and while he did drive his shipment toward the man who cheated his father, it didn’t feel like he had any plan for when he arrived. This confusing lack of focus remained when the truck reached its destination, because it seemed our protagonist was clueless when it came to both bargaining and revenge. A little more clear plotting and logical behavior from the characters would have helped the story a lot. The highlight of Thieves’ Highway is the cast. I have to start by mentioning the amazing Lee J. Cobb. He is one of the best antagonists I could possibly hope for in any film. When he gets mad or threatens someone it is pitch perfect every time. Richard Conte was strong as the protagonist as well. Any problems I had with his actions were a flaw in the script and not in his performance. He is likeable and displays the kind of noble character you want to root for in any film. I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to think of Millard Mitchell in the film, even though he gave a fine performance. Because of the way the story is written, there are times when he feels like a scam artist who is out to hurt our protagonist. Yet later in the film things seem to have changed significantly, and he is the savior that we’re supposed to be anxiously awaiting. Then there’s the diversion created by this muddled love story that came out of nowhere. It got quite confusing, because I never felt any indication that things were less than perfect with Barbara Lawrence who was introduced at the beginning of the film, but now I was led to believe my perceptions were wrong. Perhaps if I was more aware that this was structured like a film noir, I would have anticipated the femme fatale (played well by Valentina Cortese) and would have expected the fact that things might turn dark in the love relationships. It didn’t dawn on me until late that I was even watching a noir, therefore many of the tropes of that genre slipped by me. Thieves’ Highway is not a bad film, and it has some great performances, but I wish it was scripted a little better so that it all came together as a stronger film.
a confusing and convoluted crime melodrama
a very entertaining 1949 film noir on the produce truckers business great acting by Richard Conte,Valentina Cortese and Lee j Cobb.
Evocative noir set in the world of wildcat trucking and the shady California produce industry. Beautiful location shooting, compelling performances, and the noir staple of a returning vet confronting the underbelly of America. The movie's only slightly tainted by Darryl Zanuck's end-of-the-picture changes made to appease forces for good in the community.
In "Theives' Highway," Nick Garcos(Richard Conte) returns home from being at sea, only to find his father(Morris Carnovsky) having had his legs amputated from an accident at work. So, Nick intends to get the money owed to his father from Mike Figlia(Lee J. Cobb) who was responsible for the accident. But first Nick has to collect on his father's former truck from Ed Kinney(Millard Mitchell), its new owner. While it is true that Bill does not have the money, he does have a lucrative lead on apples that may also work as an introduction to Figlia in San Francisco.
While the characterizations are more than a little inconsistent, "Thieves' Highway" is still a lean mean piece of noir. After the plot quickly kicks in, the movie rarely lets up after that which is only suitable considering this is about truck drivers. In general, the movie is about the American dream and the challenges that immigrants face when trying to make it in the United States.(On the other side, the movie also suffers from some of the sexism of the time it was made.) Director Jules Dassin is so honest in depicting this that it is not surprising that he had to eventually leave the country.
I've seen crime films where thieves try to smuggle drugs or guns, but this is the best crime film about trying to move a precious cargo of apples.
11.08.2012: Great film on corruption and greed beneath the American dream. Provocative and thrilling plot.