A small time thief is recruited by a mobster to help with the racketeering. He doesn't like the job, but with the mob on his back, a femme fatale in his bed and a sick friend to care for, he will have to keep all his wits about him.
Joe 'Tom' Yateley is an ex-convict. Trying to leave his past behind, he decides to start working for the Hawlett Trucking company, which transports gravel. It's an aggressive company, where speed is everything. Doing too few runs in a day? You're out. Red is the most experienced trucker; he can do 18 runs in a day. Tom soon makes friends with Lucy, the secretary, and Gino, a driver. But the record of Red intrigues him and he wants to break it. Gino advises against it, but he helps Tom when he wants to go through with it. Soon trouble begins when Red and the other drivers form a united front against Tom. Just when Tom has enough and decides to pack his bags, Lucy tells him Gino had a terrible accident. She also tells about the corruption of Hawlett Trucking. Written by
Arnoud Tiele (firstname.lastname@example.org)
When this film was made I was 10 years old and my father was a truck driver in a small (by today's standards) Bedford truck almost identical to the Dodge trucks used in the film and was operating in the very area the film was made. He and his colleagues witnessed much of the film making and apparently had quite a laugh at some of the antics of the actors trying to move the trucks about! (If they had realised what the actors' pay was in relation to their own and what the future held for the likes of Sean Connery and Patrick McGoohan perhaps they would have laughed a little less!!)
As a lad my greatest delight was to accompany my father for the day and on odd occasions I got to drive the truck about in pits and quarries just like in the film and we would occasionally stop off in one of the numerous transport 'caffs' that existed in those days - with biscuits in glass jars, menus written in chalk, Coca Cola and jukeboxes in every one!! What I can tell you is that, disregarding the 'storyline' with its necessarily exaggerated drama and the near-psychotic behaviour of some of the characters, the atmosphere, scenery and setting of the story is spot on.
The film picks up nicely on the period that I witnessed myself at the time in the UK, when the bleak, post-war drabness was gradually being turned round by hard work and long hours put in by just the sort of drifting, diverse workforce (including ex-POWs) that was portrayed with some pretty fine character studies. The grittiness of their existence and the way they coped with the pressures of the day was depicted very well - pubs sold a lot more ale and a lot less 'chicken in the basket' in those days! It was a time when 'black & white' Britain was becoming 'Technicolour' and little black cars (like the Austin 7 in the film that keeps popping all over the place) were slowly being eased out by the arrival of smart new models which could even be had in *different colours*!! (Ten years from the time this film was made colour was everywhere and Britain had become 'psychedelic'!!)
Obviously the events depicted in the film would not have been allowed to go on long before they attracted the attention of the police but it may interest you to know that, for a brief while, some of the ex-military, petrol-engined trucks that were in use just after the war could be made to run faster than the police cars of the day and if you could get away from them, they couldn't 'nick' you!! Also, one small thing that doesn't seem to be picked up on by any of the comments I have read is that the trucks seemed to be running an awful lot of material into a building site that would have struggled to use it all!!
I have been delighted to read through some of the favourable comments here and agree that this film is an underrated gem - it obviously touched me as it was all like yesterday for me, but it also stands in its own right as a superb 'modern melodrama' with a star-studded cast, action, humour, a love angle, violence, death, road chases and the bad guys *getting it* in the end!!
(And it's now almost *50* years old...!!)
Ten out of ten - for a lot of reasons.....
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