Saturday, September 5, 2015

HIGHWAY 301 (1950)


Warner Brothers was responsible for this disturbing B-movie noir starring a real life bad boy, Steven Cochran. Narration by Edmon Ryan starts this crime story off in pseudo-documentary fashion, introducing each robber by their rap sheet. So you are sort of glued already. Cochran is the over confident leader and ruthless, cold blooded killer. Standard fare in one sense but it keeps you wondering how it will all play out. Things keep getting worse for each gang member as one by one they succumb while playing dodge bullet with the police. Noted is an early performance of television's perennial leading man, Robert Webber. B-movie standout, Richard Egan, is along for the ride. Virginia Grey (married to one of the robbers) cannot be without her portable radio and her favorite program...of organ music. Grey provides the wisecracks. She always reminded me of a bad drawing composite of Loretta Young and Lucille Ball. Her attempt to pass herself off as a reporter to the police goes badly. There is a scene when Cochran shoots a lady who he feels double-crossed him. As soon as the elevator doors open he fires. Needless to say, the elevator operator is a bit shaken but his lips are sealed. Never a dull moment as the perfect climax arrives for an escaping Cochran. He gets his due from a speeding...well...it’s worth watching. In real life, Cochran was maybe not that far removed from this character (outside of the murdering and probably had more fun). He spent his off-screen hours partying and thinking he was God’s gift to women.

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