Pulp Fiction Thursday: Highway 301

I realize I go on too much about Eddie Muller in this feature. Noir Alley has introduced me to so many nifty noirs that I aspire to be a Noir Duke. There’s only one Noir Czar.

Highway 301 is one of those films. I first saw it on Noir Alley last month. I’d never even heard of it before. I was blown away, especially by Steve Cochran’s death scene. If that’s a spoiler, consider yourself spoiled.

Highway 301 was ripped from the headlines by writer-director Andrew Stone. It tells the tale of a three state crime wave by the Tri-State gang. The movie begins with somewhat stilted speeches by the Governors of Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. They were  the Tri-States in question. It’s a pity that none of the Governors wears a tri-corner hat.

The movie begins in earnest with the appearance of the gang and its charismatic leader played by Steve Cochran. Highway 301 was the #3 film on my Steve Cochran Dozen. Cochran had everything a movie star needed except for better parts. He was one of handsomest movie stars of his time but excelled at playing heavies, so that put a ceiling on his star prospects. It’s as if Nightmare Alley had been Tyrone Power’s debut film.

Repeat after me: Steve Cochran should have been a major star.

The Tri-State gang was doomed from the git-go. Their early success led to fatal overconfidence, which led to a Cagney-esque death scene from the star. I wish I had a clip. You’ll have to watch the movie to see for yourself.

Highway 301 was written and directed by Andrew Stone who specialized in stone cold crime movies based on real life events. This one is a doozy.

GRADING TIME: I give Highway 301 3 1/2 stars and an Adrastos Grade of B+.

Let’s see some movie art.

We begin with the one sheet with Steve Cochran looking all ruthless and shit.

Let’s all go to the lobby:

Now that we’ve followed movie treats around, let’s see some lobby cards.

I couldn’t find a trailer for this week’s movie. Eddie Muller’s intro and outro will just have to do.

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