Thursday, 20 February 2014

The Long Haul.

When Harry Miller’s discharge comes through he wants to leave Germany and return the States with his wife Connie and his young son Johnny/Butch but Connie has no intention of living in America and persuades Harry to travel with her to her home town of Liverpool in England. ‘Uncle’ George has a haulage company and is always on the look out for drivers who can deliver loads from Liverpool to Glasgow and willingly gives our ex-American soldier a job. The hours are long and the wages low, a 44 hour week for £10.00 but from the off it would appear that there is extra money to be earned that is not always above board. On his first run out he accompanies another rig, and gets into fight when he discovers two men stealing goods out of the back of lorry. The other driver Casey warns him off telling him this happens all the time, especially when someone’s dropped a few quid to turn a blind eye! Following this incident he meets opposition and gets a beating while trying to get a return load to bring back to Liverpool. He told to see Joe Easy who has his own haulage company and controls every thing that comes out of Glasgow.  Harry essentially is an honest loving family man but when he finally meets up with Easy he’s made an offer that he can’t refuse. The offer is spiced when he falls for Easy’s voluptuous girlfriend Lyn. Harry finds his loyalties are divided but accepts that one big final trip, which involves moving a load of scotch whiskey across country (see also Wages of Fear (1953)) which gets interesting when Lyn joins Harry and Joe in a cold Scottish burn when the whiskey laden truck gets stuck!
Lyn not pleased with Joe Easy....
The film, which explores the violent world of lorry drivers at a time when there did not seem to be any rules, stars Columbia pictures star Victor Mature as Harry Miller at a time when it was not unusual for an American actor to be seen in a British movie, an attempt to give it that authentic film noir feel. Patrick Allen plays Joe Easy, the sort of villain that when he appears on screen you feel obliged to hiss. Steeling the show is of course Diana Dors who plays the beautiful femme fatale Lyn; you really can’t take your eyes off of this woman when she is on the screen.
.....but gets even more closer to Harry Miller.
Director Ken Hughes began his professional career on a number of low budget second features starting with Wide Boy in 1952. Then, working at Merton Park in 1953 he embarked on a series of half hour Scotland Yard thrillers on which he won a reputation for crisp storytelling, often displaying a visual flair at odds with their limited budget.[1] Eventually going on to make some well-received feature films including 1963’s The Small World of Sammy Lee. Hughes also wrote the screenplay for The Long Haul (1957) based on a novel of the same name by Mervyn Mills. The DOP was Basil Emmott who had worked in the industry for 37 years when he made this film, and Trevor Duncan composed the music.
A great publicity shot of Diana Dors and Patrick Allen.
This intriguingly, exciting old-fashioned crime thriller is tough and gritty with plenty of faces you will recognise including Public Eye himself Frank Marker. Columbia Pictures released this film on a double feature with The Hard Man (1957) with the tag line: "The Long Haul will delight you! The Hard Man will excite you!" wonderful stuff.  My suggestion would to ignore the obvious script; you just know what the characters are going to say before they say it, and just sit back and enjoy this long neglected movie.   

[1] The British B Film. Steve Chibnall and Brian McFarlane.

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