Friday, August 16, 2002


[Some plot spoilers included below!!]
I had avoided this one, even though it has Humphrey Bogart and Ann Sheridan, because it's about truckers and I tend to put trucker films in with circus films and sports films as movie genres that I avoid. But this was quite good, and has the best George Raft performance I've ever seen. Raft and Bogart are brothers who are "wildcat," or independent, truck drivers, struggling to make a living on their own apart from corporate trucking. They still owe some money on their truck; in the opening, truckstop waitress Ann Sheridan helps them escape the repossession man so they can get one more haul and pay their last installment. Raft and Sheridan fall for each other (Bogart, in one of his last supporting roles before he hit it big with HIGH SIERRA & MALTESE FALCON, is married and faithful). According to this film, the most dangerous part of being a trucker is the possibility of falling asleep at the wheel, and an accident of this kind winds up derailing the careers of both Raft and Bogart, so they end up in the corporate business anyway, thanks to good-natured trucking boss Alan Hale. But his scheming wife, Ida Lupino, gets the hots for Raft and won't stop at murder to try to snag him.

The story is fast-paced and seems fairly believable, as are the characters. Hale gets a rare chance to shine here, as does Roscoe Karns as a trucking buddy. Lupino goes over-the-top as the psychotic wife, but her performance fits. She kills Hale by locking him in the garage, drunk and at the wheel of a running car; her breakdown in a courtroom scene is quite good, with the electric-eye garage doors coming back to haunt her ("The doors made me do it!!") at the climax. I spotted handsome John Ridgely in a small part, along with George Tobias and John Litel. Apart from a sort of phony feeling happy ending, this is definitely one I'd recommend.

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