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Thieves' Highway Reviews

This was to be Dassin's last film in America for over a decade; as a victim of the House Un-American Activities he was labeled a communist and forced to work in Europe. Unlike many of the blacklisted filmmakers, Dassin was able to continue making films, his talent blossoming when he was freed from the Hollywood system. Effectively using the hilly terrain of San Francisco and the surrounding countryside, THIEVES' HIGHWAY is the story of a vengeance-minded GI (Conte) who returns home from the war to discover that his father has lost the use of his legs as a result of a feud with Cobb. Conte had originally planned on using his small savings to marry the pretty, but very shallow, Lawrence. Instead he buys a truck, becoming involved in the same racket as his father, and thus deals directly with the crooked Cobb. Because Conte is out of money, Lawrence leaves him. With the assistance of his buddy Mitchell, Conte plans to deliver a load of apples to Cobb. When Conte arrives, the produce manager has prostitute Cortese lure the veteran away while Cobb takes advantage of the truckload of apples. Cortese soon reveals her own distaste for Cobb, warning Conte that a trap has been set for him. When Conte goes back to confront Cobb, he finds a couple of henchmen waiting. Eventually Conte does get his vengeance on Cobb, after the henchmen discover that their boss has also been cheating them. A major focus of this picture is the changes Conte goes through as a result of his confrontation with Cobb. Coming back from the war a clean-cut soldier, ready to make a go at an honest living and to marry the all-American girl of every soldier's dream, Conte instead finds himself enmeshed in the world of hoods. The American dream is quickly destroyed, and what is revealed is a much more real world. Along with employing a highy visual style, Dassin has effectively paced the movement of the plot to create a hard-hitting drama.