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Highway Dragnet
IMDB Rating: 6.3/10 from PASSED votes
Release: 27 Jan 1954 /

Highway Dragnet

Genre: Crime, Drama, Film-Noir
Director: Nathan Juran,
Stars: , , ,
Synopsis: Wrongly accused of killing a bar-girl he was seen with earlier, a Korean War vet flees from the police in the company of a woman photographer and her young female model.

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Critic Reviews


In a Las Vegas casino, just-demobbed Marine (Richard Conte), buying a drink for a case-hardened platinum blonde (Mary Beth Hughes), inadvertently insults her; they have a public spat but kiss and make up, also publicly. Next day he's picked up by the sheriff as the prime suspect in her death by strangulation. He overpowers his captors and sets out on the lam.

Since an all-points bulletin has troopers checking the highways and the state border, he takes up with a couple of women with car trouble. There's a high-profile fashion photographer from New york (the redoubtable Joan Bennett, who helped shape the noir cycle in two early Fritz Lang films); with her is her callow young assistant (Wanda Hendrix). Despite their attempts to ditch him, he sticks with them, ultimately by force, on his journey to the California desert, where he grew up.

Highway Dragnet's title pretty much sums it up: It's a road-chase movie in the fast, flat 50s style, but with a good pulse and a perverse twist or two (alert viewers will pick up on a giveaway clue right after the dog becomes road kill). It also features the other kind of trouper in the person of Iris Adrian, doing what she did better than anybody else: the hash-slinger with a mouth on her.

But the pedestrian, late-noir style undercuts what might have been the film's final showpiece: a final reckoning in Conte's old homestead, under knee-deep water from the floods of the Salton Sea. This strange metaphorical setting gets taken for granted; this was a time when the evocative imagery of earlier film noir had ceded primacy to the literalness of plot.

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