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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.

Director:

Nathan Juran

Writers:

Herb Meadow (screenplay), Jerome Odlum (screenplay) | 4 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Conte ... Jim Henry
Joan Bennett ... Mrs. Cummings
Wanda Hendrix ... Susan Willis
Reed Hadley ... Det. Lt. Joe White Eagle
Mary Beth Hughes ... Terry Smith
Iris Adrian ... Dolly
Harry Harvey ... Mr. Carson
Tom Hubbard Tom Hubbard ... Det. Sgt. Ben Barnett
Frank Jenks ... Marine in Civvies
Murray Alper ... Ice Cream Truck Driver
Zon Murray ... Trooper in Cafe
House Peters Jr. ... Steve
Joseph Crehan ... Elderly Border Inspection Officer
Charles Anthony Hughes Charles Anthony Hughes ... Chubby Border Inspection Officer (as Tony Hughes)
Bill Hale 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:

PANIC in each desperate kiss...in each revealing mile...(original lobby card) See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Film-Noir

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

27 January 1954 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The House in the Sea See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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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

The mode's dress changes 17 (seventeen) times from black to white to black starting from when they're taken to the car to escape to the end of the film. 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 bmacvSee 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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