Forest Tucker contends with the sabotage of Thomas Gomez
"Night Freight" (1955) brings its first major conflict into view quickly as a local freight train, co-owned by Forest Tucker, is forced to stop when a supposedly stalled truck sits athwart the tracks. The truck line is owned by Thomas Gomez, who has monopolized the valley's transportation by fair means and foul. Now he wants to prevent Tucker's line from piggybacking local independent trucks on the rail cars and breaking his hold. Fireman on the train is Tucker's kid brother, a guy who hasn't found himself and has big dreams, Keith Larsen. He feels suffocated under Forest's thumb. Gomez makes it very clear he won't roll over, and he intends to use any means to stop the railroad from succeeding in its plans.
The second major conflict soon is shown as Larsen announces he's marrying a waitress he hardly knows, Barbara Britton. She's bounced around and is looking for a lifeline, and Larsen looks good to her. Tucker intends to show her up for what she is by romancing her a bit and showing Larsen she's easy. This plan leads into a triangle conflict when Tucker falls for her too. Britton meanwhile plays ping-pong with the two brothers for the rest of the story.
This is an entertaining movie that combines action and character developments very nicely. There is surprisingly fresh writing in doing so. It's quite a challenge to Britton to place her in the middle as the story has done and have her believably move in both directions, a third one which is to housekeep for both men, and a fourth one, which is to walk out on both. I really don't think she accomplished it, but the story moved swiftly and for a b-movie her playing sufficed. She had enough spunk to carry it off. Tucker's character was surprisingly laid back in contrast with the hot-tempered and sometimes morose Larsen. The action of Gomez vs. the railroad eventually took over. Toward the end, there are also some loose legal ends due to violence that we need to forgive and forget.
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