Thieves Highway 1949Like the movie’s rattletrap trucks lurching down the highway as they carry way-too-heavy loads, the characters in Jules Dassin’s brilliantly volatile Thieves' Highway struggle under psychological and moral baggage until they can lay their burdens down. Working from a novel and script by A.I. Bezzerides, Dassin made this swift, fluid melodrama in 1949, after Brute Force and The Naked City. Thieves’ Highway is his best American movie. It breathes the same air of risk and desperation as his made-in-Europe masterpieces, London’s Night and the City (1950) and the Paris-set Rififi (1954). But it has a rich sensuality all its own.

The film’s hero, Nick Garcos (Richard Conte) is an ex G.I. who has just returned home from a far east journey. With plans of showering his family members with gifts, he shows up at the family home in Fresno, California, when he learns that his beloved father is a recent amputee - a victim of a truck accident. His father, Papa Garcos (Morris Carnovsky) was a long haul produce driver delivering fruit and vegetables to local markets. On a recent run to San Francisco, he entered into an agreement with Mike Figlia (Lee J. Cobb), an unscrupulous produce vendor to purchase a load of tomatoes but Figlia got the old man drunk, sending him on his way without paying him. His departure led to an accident resulting in the loss of his legs and ultimately the loss of his livelihood - his job. Nick becomes enraged and vows to seek revenge on the man responsible...

Director: Jules Dassin
Cast: Richard Conte, Valentina Cortese, Lee J. Cobb, Barbara Lawrence, Jack Oakie, Millard Mitchell, Joseph Pevney
Country: USA
Genre: Drama, Film-Noir, Thriller

Thieves' Highway (1949) Criterion Collection
DVD9 | NTSC 4:3 | 01:34:04 | 6.59 Gb + 3% rec
Language: English
Subtitles: English


Audio commentary by Alain Silver, editor of Film Noir Reader and author of Raymond Chandler’s Los Angeles. This is a fairly tedious commentary that likes to comment a lot simply on the action taking place on screen. He makes some interesting comments about the making of the film and about the characters, but he speaks in such a dull manner it’s just not altogether that interesting. Mr. Silver starts the commentary by offering a history of Nick's character and his return after his long (and obvious prosperous) absence. A number of brief bios are offered up as well as the shooting location of Sebastopol, California. He also spends a fair amount of time discussing various camera techniques throughout the course of the film when he feels certain sequences should be highlighted.

Video interview with Jules Dassin. Lasting over 10-minutes, its just wonderful listening to the guy talk about making this film. He talks about the characters and truck drivers in general, as well as Zanuck's creative choices and the actors. He also talks about his favourite moments in the film, and one of his all-time favourite shots. Excellent interview.

Trailer for The Long Haul of A.I. Bezzerides (2005), a new documentary on Bezzerides, author of the screenplay for Thieves’ Highway and the novel on which it was based.

Original theatrical trailer

Download Thieves' Highway (1949) DVD9 Criterion Collection:



Thieves' Highway (1949) Arrow Academy
BD50 | 1080p AVC | 01:34:01 | 43 Gb + 3% rec
Language: English
Subtitles: English


The Long Haul of A.I. Bezzerides - this documentary feature takes a closer look at the life and work of writer A.I. Bezzerides. His novel Thieves' Market inspired Jules Dassin's film. The documentary features plenty of archival interviews and is narrated by A.I. Bezzerides, Jules Dassin, Mickey Spillane (author of Kiss Me Deadly), George Pelecanos (author of The Night Gardener), Jason Baldwin, and Barry Gifford (author of Out of the Past: Adventures in Film Noir). It was directed by Fay Efrosini Lellios. In English, not subtitled. (56 min).

The Fruits of Labor - presented here is a brand new video essay by Frank Krutnik, author of In a Lonely Street: Film Noir, Genre, Masculinity, which focuses on the production history of Thieves' Highway and its key themes and sytle. The essay was produced exclusively for Arrow Video. In English, not subtitled. (34 min).

Trailer - original trailer for Thieves' Highway. In English, not subtitled. (3 min).

Stills Gallery - a gallery of stills from the film.

Commentary - presented here is a select scene and character commentary by Frank Krutnik. The comments address the socio-political environment in which Thieves' Highway emerged, the dilemmas Nick Garcos faces after he returns home and discovers that his father has been cheated, some specific framing choices, the character played by Valentina Cortese and its importance for the film, etc. The commentary is broken into three sections. In English, not subtitled.

1. The Homecoming (13 min).
2. Delicious Gold (8 min).
3. Rica (11 min).