Highway Dragnet (Blu-ray)
Film InformationDirector: Nathan Juran // Kino Video // 71 minutes // Rating: Not Rated // 1954
Reviewed by: Matt Malouf | March 12th, 2018
Plot: What’s it about?
I often love coming across films that I hadn’t heard of before. That’s the case with the film I’m reviewing here: Highway Dragnet which I received a solicitation for. The cover seemed interesting and the premise relatively intriguing that I couldn’t pass the opportunity up. It also clocks in at a relatively brief 70 minutes. Indeed it is a lean and mean flick that, while maybe not something with tons of replay value, still entertained me across its brief running time. The plot is pretty simple and involves a Korean war vet wrongly accused of murdering a woman he met in a bar. I’ll dive more into the plot in the next paragraph, but the film kept me with it and I was a bit surprised by the outcome.
Richard Conte plays Jim Henry, he’s a war vet. We meet him early on in the film as he’s in Las Vegas to visit a friend. In a bar, he sees an attractive blonde in which he strikes up a conversation. It’s later revealed that she has been murdered, and Jim is now the suspect. He’s picked up by police, but swears he’s innocent and that he just met the girl. Jim tells the police that his friend, Paul (Frank Jenks) can back up his alibi that he was with him. In a bit of a panic, Jim is able to grab the revolver from one of the police officers and holds the others up before managing to escape. He escapes in a police vehicle which he later abandons and switches clothes. As he’s wandering, he sees two women by their stranded car. One is a magazine photographer names H.G. Cummings (Joan Bennett) and her model Susan Willis (Wanda Hendrix). He manages to start their car and avoid being taken by a passing police car who informs them to be on the lookout for the stolen police car. The three of them stop at a diner to get some lunch, but Jim decides to take the food to go as some police officers there inform them about a hitchhiker who is on the loose. Mrs. Cummings suspects Jim is the killer and wants to abandon him, but to no avail. The rest of the film plays out with the police in pursuit of Jim with the ladies along with him. We see that Susan begins to have a soft spot for Jim while Mrs. Cummings does not.
Highway Dragnet won’t be something I need to revisit often, but it’s worth viewing once. I enjoyed that it didn’t overstay its welcome, and the plot kept me with it. Performances are all fine with Richard Conte striking just the right note to make us have sympathy for him even if we’re unsure initially of who the actual killer is. It isn’t overly thrilling or intense, but the pace moves along at a nice clip that it holds our interest. Check it out.
Video: How’s it look?
The Black and White transfer has been given a fresh 4K scan and it looks quite nice even if there’s some small albeit noticeable grain throughout. The image is AVC encoded with a 1.66:1 ratio that stays pretty consistently sharp and satisfying. Details are strong and there’s a general freshness to the transfer where we can see they did a good job cleaning it up. It serves the film well.
Audio: How’s it sound?
We get a DTS track which features strong vocals and keeps us engaged. Don’t expect an overly robust track here, but it works just fine for this film. The police sirens heard occasionally have a natural sound to them, vocals are crisp sounding as well. All things told, this track serves its purpose.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Theatrical Trailer
The Bottom Line
For those looking for a tight and lean film with a simple plot, Highway Dragnet might just be for you. I enjoyed the film for what it is even if it’s not something I revisit often. It features a simple, but solid plot and good acting across the board. Check it out.