HIGHWAY 13. Screen Guild Productions, 1948. Robert Lowery, Pamela Blake, Clem Bevans, Michael Whalen, Gaylord Pendleton, Lyle Talbot, Maris Wrixon, Mary Gordon. Director: William Berke.

HIGHWAY 13 Robert Lowrey

   If you were to go looking for this film on DVD, you’ll find it easily enough in an inexpensive box set of noir films recently released to the market.

   Noir? Don’t believe everything you’re told. Even though there are noirish elements to it, there aren’t any more than you’ll find in any black and white crime film made in the 1940s or early 50s, and that’s all that this movie is. No more — or no less.

   It turns out that California’s Highway 13 is a death trap for truckers, with six accidents having occurred in as many weeks. The problem is that the accidents have happened only to the drivers working for one company, the one that Hank Wilson (good-looking and well-built Robert Lowery, soon to become serial-world’s Batman) has hired on for. Sabotage is suspected.

HIGHWAY 13 Robert Lowrey

   Most of the movie takes place in or around Pops Lacy’s isolated restaurant and truck stop somewhere along that same Highway 13 where Wilson’s steady girl friend Doris (Pamela Blake) works as a waitress behind the counter. Pops himself is a sour cantankerous old cuss played by Clem Bevans, who is (no surprise) perfect for the part. The players are fine, in other words; it’s the story that doesn’t match up.

   Most other reviewers of this film rate it a whole lot higher than I do, but personally I don’t care for crime films in which the culprit(s) is/are obvious; the scenes while individually fine are jammed together in haphazard fashion; and the reason for the whole affair doesn’t make any more sense than a chicken caught in a fence.

   It isn’t really all that bad, but reading that last sentence back again, almost.

HIGHWAY 13 Robert Lowrey