Thieves' Highway (1949)

93 mins | Drama | October 1949

Director:

Jules Dassin

Producer:

Robert Bassler

Cinematographer:

Norbert Brodine

Editor:

Nick DeMaggio

Production Designers:

Lyle Wheeler, Chester Gore

Production Company:

Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
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HISTORY

The working titles of this film were Hard Bargain and Collision . According to documents in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department Collection in the Arts--Special Collections Library at UCLA, the studio purchased the rights to A. I. Bezzerides' unpublished novel The Red of My Blood in Jan 1948 for $37,500. Bezzerides was hired at $1,000 per week, with a ten-week guarantee, to write the screenplay. The film started production, in the San Francisco produce market, through the cooperation of the Wholesale Fruit and Produce Dealers Association. Later, however, when the novel was scheduled to be published under the title Thieves' Market and the studio decided to use that title for the film, the Dealers Association protested vigorously. Twentieth Century-Fox production head Darryl F. Zanuck was reluctant to change the title and, in a memo to the Legal Department, wrote, "We state definitely that Thieves' Market pertains only to [character] Mike Figlia's market and we go out of our way to clean up the rest of the market. Therefore it seems to me that we are not guilty in any respect of damaging anyone...You can talk to Mr. Skouras [the studio's president] about it when he gets out here but I refuse to be put in the position of costing the Company added revenue. If we had committed a wrong or if we were harming someone then I would feel differently but this is not the case."
       Early casting suggestions for the leading role included Dana Andrews and Victor Mature. Actors Frank Richards, Al Eben and Joe Haworth are credited in some cast lists in minor roles, but ... More Less

The working titles of this film were Hard Bargain and Collision . According to documents in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department Collection in the Arts--Special Collections Library at UCLA, the studio purchased the rights to A. I. Bezzerides' unpublished novel The Red of My Blood in Jan 1948 for $37,500. Bezzerides was hired at $1,000 per week, with a ten-week guarantee, to write the screenplay. The film started production, in the San Francisco produce market, through the cooperation of the Wholesale Fruit and Produce Dealers Association. Later, however, when the novel was scheduled to be published under the title Thieves' Market and the studio decided to use that title for the film, the Dealers Association protested vigorously. Twentieth Century-Fox production head Darryl F. Zanuck was reluctant to change the title and, in a memo to the Legal Department, wrote, "We state definitely that Thieves' Market pertains only to [character] Mike Figlia's market and we go out of our way to clean up the rest of the market. Therefore it seems to me that we are not guilty in any respect of damaging anyone...You can talk to Mr. Skouras [the studio's president] about it when he gets out here but I refuse to be put in the position of costing the Company added revenue. If we had committed a wrong or if we were harming someone then I would feel differently but this is not the case."
       Early casting suggestions for the leading role included Dana Andrews and Victor Mature. Actors Frank Richards, Al Eben and Joe Haworth are credited in some cast lists in minor roles, but their participation in the released film is doubtful.
       According to the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, the film encountered problems with the PCA. In Feb 1949, the PCA stated that it could not "approve this picture in its present form because of the characterization of the girl Rica as a prostitute...Some extensive eliminations must be made as well as the addition of several new scenes." Producer Robert Bassler agreed, in late Feb, to shoot a new scene introducing Rica and indicating that she had regular, paid employment as a fortune teller. Bassler also agreed that excisions would be made, in dialogue and action, in scenes between Rica and Nick. Retakes were scheduled for early Mar 1949. The PCA issued a certificate in Jun "with the understanding that all prints are to be identical with the cut version shown in our projection room on June 13th." It is assumed that this is the version released, but in neither of the two prints viewed is there a scene in which Rica is established as anything other than a prostitute until the very end when she is seen reading cards in a bar. Additionally, the dialogue continuity, dated 18 Jul 1949, submitted with the copyright registration, does not include the strong anti-vigilantism dialogue spoken by a policeman to Nick after he has beaten up Figlia: "You know you can't take the law into your own hands. Taking care of guys like Figlia is our job." More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
10 Sep 1949.
---
Daily Variety
2 Sep 49
p. 3.
Film Daily
8 Sep 49
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Nov 48
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Dec 48
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Sep 49
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
3 Sep 49
p. 1.
New York Times
24 Sep 49
p. 8.
Variety
7 Sep 49
p. 11.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Dial dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Asst cam
Asst cam
Gaffer
Stills
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Ward dir
Cost des
MUSIC
Mus dir
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Scr supv
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Thieves' Market by A. I. Bezzerides (New York, 1949).
SONGS
"The Kleftman," Greek folk song.
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Thieves Market
Hard Bargain
Release Date:
October 1949
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 20 September 1949
Production Date:
early November--late December 1948
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
20 September 1949
Copyright Number:
LP2716
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
93
Length(in feet):
8,437
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
PCA No:
13530
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Nick Garcos returns to his home in Fresno after a long sea voyage working as a mechanic and is welcomed home by his parents and girl friend, Polly Faber. Nick, who has saved a lot of his pay and plans to go into business with Polly's father, is unaware that his father has lost his legs in a truck accident, which appears to have been arranged by Mike Figlia, a crooked fruit and produce dealer in San Francisco. Money allegedly paid to Mr. Garcos by Figlia was also "lost" in the accident. Unable to work, Nick's father sold his damaged truck to Ed Kinney, who patched it together but still owes money on it. Nick suggests that he and Ed go into business together to truck a new crop of apples into San Francisco, and Ed cancels an agreement he made with two other truckers, Slob and Pete. Nick and Ed acquire another truck and head for the apple orchard. When Ed tries to cheat the orchard owners, Nick tells him to honor the deal he made. Slob and Pete then show up at the orchard and, not pleased about the new partnership, follow Nick and Ed with a load of their own. Nick's truck blows a tire and, as he tries to jack the truck up, it falls on him. Ed stops, pulls Nick out and repairs the flat, and they continue on. Nick arrives first at the San Francisco produce market and goes to see Figlia. After Nick's truck is sabotaged in front of Figlia's place, he meets Rica, a girl who works for Figlia, at a lunch counter in the market. She invites him to rest ... +


Nick Garcos returns to his home in Fresno after a long sea voyage working as a mechanic and is welcomed home by his parents and girl friend, Polly Faber. Nick, who has saved a lot of his pay and plans to go into business with Polly's father, is unaware that his father has lost his legs in a truck accident, which appears to have been arranged by Mike Figlia, a crooked fruit and produce dealer in San Francisco. Money allegedly paid to Mr. Garcos by Figlia was also "lost" in the accident. Unable to work, Nick's father sold his damaged truck to Ed Kinney, who patched it together but still owes money on it. Nick suggests that he and Ed go into business together to truck a new crop of apples into San Francisco, and Ed cancels an agreement he made with two other truckers, Slob and Pete. Nick and Ed acquire another truck and head for the apple orchard. When Ed tries to cheat the orchard owners, Nick tells him to honor the deal he made. Slob and Pete then show up at the orchard and, not pleased about the new partnership, follow Nick and Ed with a load of their own. Nick's truck blows a tire and, as he tries to jack the truck up, it falls on him. Ed stops, pulls Nick out and repairs the flat, and they continue on. Nick arrives first at the San Francisco produce market and goes to see Figlia. After Nick's truck is sabotaged in front of Figlia's place, he meets Rica, a girl who works for Figlia, at a lunch counter in the market. She invites him to rest in her nearby apartment, and while he is there, Figlia has Nick's truck unloaded and begins to sell the apples on consignment. However, when Nick discovers that Figlia is selling the load at $6.50 a box but intends to pay him substantially less, he demands and receives cash and a check for the full amount. He then phones Polly and asks her to come to San Francisco so they can be married. Nick buys Rica a drink to celebrate his sale, and she tells him that Polly is probably marrying him for his money. As they walk back to the market, Nick is attacked by two of Figlia's thugs, Mitch and Frenchy, and Rica picks up his wallet and runs off. Nick, thinking that Rica was in league with the thugs, goes looking for her. However, the thugs find Rica first and take the wallet. Meanwhile, Ed's truck starts to fall apart on a steep downhill slope, then crashes and bursts into flames with Ed trapped inside. When Polly arrives in San Francisco, she is met by Rica and is unhappy to learn that Nick is resting in her room. Slob and Pete then try to sell their load of apples to Figlia, but Slob angers Pete when he ghoulishly offers to go back to pick up the apples around Ed's crash site. After Rica tells Polly that Nick has been robbed of all his money, Polly walks out on him. Confused by Rica's behavior, Nick accuses her of setting him up. She warns him that Mitch and Frenchy may try to kill him, as she knows they have arranged truck accidents before. Early the next morning, Nick goes to the market and meets Slob, who tells him that Ed is dead and that Figlia and his henchmen are scavenging his cargo. As Nick and Slob head out to the crash scene, Rica phones the police. Figlia and Pete are celebrating in a bar when Nick and Slob show up. After Pete discovers that Figlia has underpaid him, Figlia tries to leave, but Nick grabs him and beats him up, forcing him to say that he has a check for Nick's father and that he will make up all the other losses. The police arrive, take Figlia into custody and warn Nick about taking the law into his own hands. Nick returns to Rica and they plan a life together. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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