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Highway Dragnet (1954)

Passed | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 27 January 1954 (USA)
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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(screenplay), (screenplay) | 4 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Jim Henry
...
Mrs. Cummings
...
Susan Willis
...
Det. Lt. Joe White Eagle
...
Terry Smith
...
Dolly
...
Mr. Carson
Tom Hubbard ...
Det. Sgt. Ben Barnett
...
Marine in Civvies
...
Ice Cream Truck Driver
...
Trooper in Cafe
...
Steve
...
Elderly Border Inspection Officer
...
Chubby Border Inspection Officer (as Tony Hughes)
Bill Hale ...
Harry
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Storyline

Mrs. Cummings, a free-lance magazine photographer and a recent widow after her husband committed suicide, and her model, Susan, are on an assignment to cover resorts California and Nevada. Driving west from Las Vegas they pick up Jim Henry, a recently-discharged Marine, who is hitchhiking to the home of a friend near the Salton Sea. Meanwhile, back in Las Vegas, a blonde known casually by Jim, is found murdered. Jim becomes the object of a manhunt directed by Police-Lieut. White Eagle of the Las Vegas police. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

THREE-STATE ALARM FOR THRILL-KILLER...Along the Roaring Crime Route from Las Vegas! (original poster) See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Film-Noir

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

27 January 1954 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The House in the Sea  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The name of the waitress at the cafe is listed as 'Dolly' but the trooper repeatedly calls her 'Sally'. See more »

Goofs

At the camp fire in the desert, Jim put his .45 caliber pistol on the rock with the barrel pointing away from the fire, but subsequent views of the gun show the barrel point toward the camp fire. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Directors: The Films of Roger Corman (1999) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Despite some wasted opportunities, a better-than-most road chase noir
26 May 2002 | by (Western New York) – See all my 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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