Monday, May 05, 2014

Tonight's Movie: Hi-Jacked (1950)

HI-JACKED is a creaky yet diverting low-budget film from Lippert Pictures. It's part of VCI's Forgotten Noir Collector's Set, Vol. 3.

HI-JACKED is the story of Joe Harper (Jim Davis), an ex-con who is rebuilding his life with a job as a trucker. He is repeatedly hi-jacked by a gang of thieves who figure the police and the insurance company will eventually assume that Joe is behind the crimes.

HI-JACKED is more of a "C" movie than a "B" movie, yet I found the film's low-budget aura strangely endearing. I particularly enjoyed the scenes where Joe checks in with his parole officer, Mr. Kent (William E. Green), and has a card signed. Were parole officers ever that kindly and unharried?

The film is of note chiefly for its lead actors. Jim Davis, who gained fame decades later as Jock Ewing on DALLAS, was very young here and not a very good actor, although the dialogue he had to deliver didn't help matters.

Davis's long-suffering wife is played by Marsha Jones, who as Marcia Mae Jones was a highly effective child actress in films such as THESE THREE (1936), HEIDI (1937), THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER (1938), and THE LITTLE PRINCESS (1939).

As a young adult she did a couple of films under the name Marsha Jones, also including CHICAGO CALLING (1952) with Dan Duryea. Unfortunately she mostly just exclaims in shock in HI-JACKED, without much more to do. Marcia Mae Jones passed away in 2007.

Iris Adrian livens things up in her scenes as a friendly truck stop waitress. I enjoyed a couple of shots of a truck stop out in Gorman, California.

I also enjoyed a scene where a trucker drops his Thermos, shakes it, and when it rattles he comments he's now out the money for the Thermos. It brought back the forgotten memory of lunch in the school cafeteria and shaking my Thermos before opening it every day to make sure there was no broken glass in it. Kids with plastic Thermoses have no idea! Movies such as this can be valuable in their small way for such insights into daily life of the past.

I think a movie like HI-JACKED also has a certain value in providing context for other viewing. The contrast with the top-of-the-line production THIS ABOVE ALL (1942), seen yesterday, was so stark it makes one appreciate the really good stuff all the more.

The supporting cast of HI-JACKED includes Sid Melton (who can be very tiresome), David Bruce, Paul Cavanagh, House Peters Jr., and Myron Healey.

HI-JACKED is over and done in 65 minutes. It was shot in black and white by Phil Tennura (also known as Phil Tannura) and directed by Sam Newfield.

I previously reviewed another film in this DVD collection, the enjoyable SCOTLAND YARD INSPECTOR (1952) starring Cesar Romero.


Blogger Jerry E said...

Quite an interesting little movie this. I recently picked up a copy of this FORGOTTEN NOIRS DVD and enjoyed all 3 films. "Mr. District Attorney" with Dennis O'Keefe and a boxing drama starring Don Barry.

This was pretty early in Jim Davis's career and his performances became more confident as the 50s wore on. His accent alone made him stand out from the crowd.

9:17 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Jerry! I need to watch those movies and several more. I got one of the big sets which contains multiple triple bill discs. Especially look forward to the O'Keefe film. I really appreciate that VCI has preserved these "forgotten" films and made them available, as in their own way I find these low-budget titles as interesting as the classics.

I realized while watching this that I've seen very little of Jim Davis's early career. THE WILD DAKOTAS (1956) and TOUGHEST GUN OF TOMBSTONE (1958) come to mind as two I've seen. I'll be interested to note the development of his acting as I watch more of his movies.

Best wishes,

9:46 AM  

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