The fast and the noir-ious; this Arrow Academy release (like regular Arrow, except even classier) sees a war veteran turned truck driver battling the gangsters who robbed and crippled his poor old Pop. The inciting incident? Tomatoes. Ah, it was a more innocent time.
Stylish, good-looking film noir, like its lead character, it doesn't take the film long to devolve from façade of sunny (late) ‘40s suburban bliss into violence and brutality. And so a plan for revenge is hatched... involving sweet, tasty golden delicious apples, no less. Were it made today, it'd be cocaine.
Determined to exact revenge, Nick (Richard Conte, turning on a dime from cheery family man to steely war vet) teams up with trucker Ed (Millard Mitchell), the working class Joe currently looking after his old man's rig, to take down the gangsters responsible. Together they plan to travel to San Francisco, where they can deliver Ed's apples and avenge Nick's old man's legs.
It may have been a (superficially) more innocent time, but that doesn't keep Thieves’ Highway from its bleak, claustrophobic atmospherics and tense late-night driving sequences. Black and white and old it may be (and that really shouldn't put you off – for shame!), but it's a film that will have you invested in every apple of Nick's plight and gasping for breath when he suddenly, unexpectedly becomes trapped underneath his own truck. It's surprisingly violent too, in its inevitable showdown between good guy and gangster, and the lengths Figlia (Lee J. Cobb) is prepared to go to in not paying his due.
This comes accompanied by a number of documentaries and commentaries, including a 55 minute documentary about the film's screenwriter and author of the original novel, and an original video essay about the movie and its production. It may not be as fully loaded as some Arrow releases, but it certainly makes up for that in length. You're in it for the long haul, then.
Bleak, slick and arresting in its simplicity, Thieves Highway’ is the best movie about fruit and veg importation and gangsters ever made. How'd you like them apples?
THIEVES’ HIGHWAY / CERT: 12 / DIRECTOR: JULES DASSIN / SCREENPLAY: A.I. BEZZERIDES / STARRING: RICHARD CONTE, MILLARD MITCHELL, VALENTINA CORTESE, LEE J. COBB, BARBARA LAWRENCE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW