Saturday, June 16, 2018

Le salaire de la peur noire

Some months back TCM ran a night of movies featuring British actress Diana Dors. One that is currently available on DVD is The Long Haul.

Victor Mature plays Harry Miller, an American GI stationed in Germany who married an English woman Connie (Gene Anderson). His hitch is almost up, and he's got an offer from one of his best friends Art to go work at Art's company back in America. However, Connie doesn't want to uproot herself and son Butch to go to America, so it's back to Connie's old home of Liverpool. Harry doesn't exactly have much in the way of talent, but he's able to get a job as a truck driver since that apparently doesn't take too much work.

Harry starts driving on the Liverpool-Glasgow route, but he finds that he's unable to get a load to take back to Liverpool because Joe Easy (Patrick Allen), the transport man in Glasgow, only seems to want to give work to people he already trusts. Indeed, when Harry tries to press the issue, he's met with violence. This, to the horror of Joe's assistant Frank (Peter Reynolds) and Frank's sister (and also Joe's girlfriend) Lynn (Diana Dors).

Eventually, Harry gets a special job from his boss in Liverpool handling one of Joes's loads that's supposed to go to Glasgow; apparently, the trucker originally supposed to take it, the man Joe would have hand-picked, showed up late. There's a good reason Joe picked that particular trucker: Joe is engaging in insurance fraud, and is planning on robbing this particular shipment. So he's going to have to stop the shipment from going through, by hook or by crook.

It results in Harry meeting Lynn again, and this time the two beginning to fall in love as they wind up spending a night together in what passes for the British version of a motel. But that's also an opportunity for Joe to waylay Harry and steal the shipment. The police wind up investigating which puts some heat on Harry, and a whole lot of strain on Harry and Connie's marriage.

The result is that Harry wants to get back to America, but to do so he's ging to have to accompany a shipment of stolen furs first by trucking it to port through the middle of nowhere, and then on the ship. Joe is along for the ride, and is rather more willing to use force to make certain the shipment gets there, and to make sure Lynn doesn't do anything untoward.

I mentioned The Wages of Fear in the title to the post because the scenes of Harry, Joe, and Lynn having to transport the furs over a mountain really reminded me of that earlier trucking film. The rest of it isn't very alike, which isnot meant in either a good way or a bad way. As a whole, I found the movie a bit perfunctory, as if it was conceived as a second-tier production. I wouldn't be surprised if that was the case, since it was filmed in the UK but used an American actor in Mature to have somebody relatively bankable for distribution to the US. Agood portion of the movie feels a bit rushed, and some threads could, I thought, have been handled better.

The overall result is that The Long Haul is moderately entertaining, and one I'm glad I saw. I don't feel as though I wasted my time having seen it. But I've seen better and would recommend other films in the genre first.

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