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Edward G. Robinson,
Brothers Paul and Joe Fabrini run a trucking business in California mainly shipping fruit from farms to the markets in Los Angeles. They struggle to make ends meet in the face of corrupt businessmen and intense competition. They are forced into driving long hours and one night pick-up waitress Cassie Hartley who's just quit her job at a truck stop. The three of them witness the death of a mutual acquaintance when he falls asleep at the wheel. This has a profound effect on Paul and Joe and they become determined to find a way to make the business pay so they can quit. Written by
Col Needham <email@example.com>
Let's get this out of the way first: Humphrey Bogart's legions of fans seem impelled to insult George Raft as often as possible, no matter how inappropriate or clearly wrong. Those not so blinded will thoroughly enjoy this odd, mixed bag of a picture. Raft and Bogey play brothers - very believably so - who are wildcat truck drivers trying to get ahead in a tough business during the Depression. The film is odd because it seems like two separate movies. It starts out as a seeming social commentary on the hard life of truckers with fine characterizations. But as soon as Ida Lupino appears it veers straight into film noir. I, personally, would have preferred a continuation of the tone of the first part of the film rather than be subjected to the "crazy b----" act that so many call "classic" and "stealing the picture." There either should have been more foreshadowing of this switch early in the film, or the screenwriters should have found something more consistent. At any rate, Raft and Bogart get to step away from gangster roles for a breather. They're still tough guys, but they're vulnerable to the whims of fate. Raft, in fact, is adorable here, uncharacteristically blue-collar and common, desperate to be in charge of his own life. He has instant chemistry with no-nonsense Ann Sheridan. Raft works so comfortably under Walsh's direction, it's rather refreshing. If rumors are true and Bogart and Raft were not getting along at this point, they were both professionals and hid it very well. Blame Lupino, but by the second half of the film, Bogart practically disappears just when we'd like to see more development of his very sympathetic character. For Bogart fans, this is not a "Bogey" film. He's simply prepping for legend-status just around the corner. It would have been nice to see more of Sheridan, as well. I don't recall Alan Hale ever being better than he is here - watch the small things he does with such a loud character. Lupino is definitely unforgettable, and her cult following will love this. Roscoe Karns is again a fun comic foil. The editing of the picture is sometimes a bit rough, and there is a telephone sequence that does not visually work. Arthur Edeson was a frustratingly inconsistent cinematographer, ranging from brilliant work like "Casa Blanca" to B level work. This is somewhere in the middle, but the road sequences are great.
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