56 user 46 critic

Thieves' Highway (1949)

Not Rated | | Drama, Film-Noir, Thriller | 10 October 1949 (USA)
A war veteran turned truck driver attempts to avenge the crippling and robbing of his father at the hands of an amoral produce scofflaw.


Jules Dassin


A.I. Bezzerides (screen play), A.I. Bezzerides (based on his novel: "Thieves' Market")
1 win. See more awards »




Complete credited cast:
Richard Conte ... Nick Garcos
Valentina Cortese ... Rica (as Valentina Cortesa)
Lee J. Cobb ... Mike Figlia
Barbara Lawrence ... Polly Faber
Jack Oakie ... Slob
Millard Mitchell ... Ed Kinney
Joseph Pevney ... Pete
Morris Carnovsky ... Yanko Garcos
Tamara Shayne Tamara Shayne ... Parthena Garcos
Kasia Orzazewski Kasia Orzazewski ... Mrs. Polansky, the Apple Farmer's Wife
Norbert Schiller ... Mr. Polansky, the Apple Farmer
Hope Emerson ... Midge, a buyer


The soldier Nick Garcos returns back home from the war very happy, with gifts for his parents Yanko and Parthena Garcos and money in his pocket to open a business and marry his girlfriend Polly Faber. Out of the blue, Nick realizes that his father has lost both legs. Yanko, who was a truck driver, says that he was cheated by a dealer, Mike Figlia, in a San Francisco market when he delivered a truckload of tomatoes but was not paid. He believes that his accident was caused by Figlia's gangsters. Yanko also says that he then sold the truck to a driver named Ed Kinney who has not paid him. Nick meets Ed and says that he will take back the truck, but Ed proposes a deal with apples, where they may earn a great amount of money. Nick invests his savings in another truck and buys apples from a Polish farmer. They need to drive directly to the market in San Francisco without sleeping to keep the fruit fresh; but Ed's truck has problem with its axle, and Nick arrives first. Mike Figlia hires ... Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


You Need a Friend, Strong Man, - And I'm Friendly! See more »


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


According to director Jules Dassin, Jack Oakie was completely deaf by the time of this film. "He caused absolutely no delays," Dassin said. See more »


When Rica tells Nick he looks tired, he responds "You'd be tired too if you drove four hundred miles without sleep." The distance from Fresno to San Francisco is less than 200 miles. See more »


Mike Figlia: Everything happens to me. The whole street, he's gotta break down in front of my place.
Charles, dock henchman: Tough luck.
Mike Figlia: I'm the original tough luck kid.
See more »


Featured in The Long Haul of A.I. Bezzerides (2005) See more »


What Did I Do?
Music by Josef Myrow
Played briefly just before Nick starts nodding off at the wheel
See more »

User Reviews

Why isn't this film more famous?!
30 May 2010 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

I came awfully close to giving this film a 10 but I only reserve this for a very select number of films--and, at least in my semi-humble opinion, too many 10s are given out. A 10 implies a truly great film--the best among the very best. While "Thieve's Highway" is a great film, it didn't quite make it to this level...but it came darn close! Why, then, isn't it better known? It is terrific. Perhaps some of this might be that there are an awful lot of dumb people who just won't watch older black & white films. And, perhaps some of this is because the director, Jules Dassin, was blacklisted in the 1950s and lost favor among American audiences (though his reputation soared once he went o Europe to make films). Whatever the reasons, this film should be seen by more people--particularly young film makers, as they can learn a lot about how to make an exceptional and realistic film with a relatively low budget.

"Thieve's Highway" is, in many ways, like a Film Noir movie without cops or detectives. It's also a lot like the later film "The Wages of Fear"--another exceptional film. The camera angles and style are pure noir and the presence of an evil gangster-like "businessman" (Lee J. Cobb) really reminded me of this films style. I have always liked Cobb in films and he made a great heavy. Here, he is totally despicable as a produce wholesaler who isn't above stealing, beating up truckers or other underhanded behaviors to make a buck. His counterpart is Richard Conte--a highly underrated actor who had a knack for playing John Garfield-like guys--but with a touch more realism. To make things better, there are some wonderful supporting actors who make the film--such as Jack Oakie, Millard Mitchell (another underrated actor whose face you probably will recognize) and Valentina Cortese (rather unknown but very effective here). Also buried within the cast is Joseph Pevney--a guy whose real success came in directing such notable TV shows as "Star Trek" (such as "The Trouble With Tribbles") and a zillion other shows.

The film begins with Nick (Conte) returning home to visit him immigrant parents. However, he's shocked to find that his father has lost his legs--and it's due to the scum-bag Mike Figlia (Cobb) whose thugs caused an accident that crippled him. To boot, Figlia then refused to pay him for the shipment--claiming he'd already paid him. Because of this, Nick is determined both to keep the family's trucking business going AND give Figlia his comeuppance. There is much, much more to the story than this, but I'll leave the rest of it for you to see for yourself.

Suffice to say, the writing, acting and direction were first-rate and it's among the best of the late 1940s--and a definite must-see. Exciting, realistic and intelligently made from start to finish. See this movie!!

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Greek | English | Italian

Release Date:

10 October 1949 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Collision See more »

Filming Locations:

Oakland, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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