only the second dassin film i’ve seen (the other was the great rififi), but i think i like his work. he reminds me of h.g. clouzot especially because of this film’s similarities to wages of fear. but this film also has similarities to the film i saw just before it – call northside 777. they were made within a year of each other and are both fox productions. both have alfred newman doing the music and both feature the acting talents of richard conte and lee cobb (also in 12 angry men). conte and cobb are both better here than they were in call northside 777, but they also have much better roles. cobb is more in character here as a shady produce seller, versus the upright editor he played in call northside 777. conte, though good in call northside 777, is even better here as a returning veteran who finds life isn’t as good as he expected. his father is without his legs – which you know instantly from the fine acting of morris carnovsky. the family business isn’t doing well and the family truck has been sold to stay afloat. conte goes to reclaim the truck since payments have not been made on it, but runs into a tough produce trucker (millard mitchell) who needs it for one last haul of golden delicious apples. conte agrees to go 50/50 with mitchell for a double haul of apples which should turn a tidy profit for the both of them. of course things don’t go quite as planned and we see a dark side of the produce trade.
dassin creates a seedy world where the only way to get by is through deceit and by screwing over whomever it is you are dealing with. i thought the lead female (Valentina Cortesa) did a decent job, but a young (she was 48 when this movie was released) marlene dietrich would have been better. the ending is strong and makes up for the small slowdown that comes with conte’s fiancee.