After witnessing an incident on a foreign ship off California coast, a U.S. Treasury agent aboard a Coast Guard vessel decides to further investigate the matter by following a crime trail leading to China, Egypt, Lebanon and Cuba.
When successful business man Lee Warren suspects his wife is having an affair, he sets out find her lover, kill him, and make it look like suicide. Complications set in, when he finds out ... See full summary »
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 <email@example.com>
Despite some wasted opportunities, a better-than-most road chase noir
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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