AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Highway Dragnet
Alternate Title: House in the Sea
Director: Nathan Juran (Dir)
Release Date:   7 Feb 1954
Premiere Information:   Los Angeles opening: 20 Jan 1954
Production Date:   mid-Aug--late-Aug 1953
Duration (in mins):   70-71
Duration (in feet):   6,342
Duration (in reels):   8
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Cast:   Richard Conte (Jim Henry)  
    Joan Bennett (Mrs. H. G. Cummings)  
    Wanda Hendrix (Susan)  
    Reed Hadley (Lt. Joe White Eagle)  
    Mary Beth Hughes (Terry Flynn)  
    Iris Adrian (Sally)  
    Harry Harvey (Carson)  
    Tom Hubbard (Ben)  
    Frank Jenks (Marine)  
    Murray Alper (Truck driver)  
    Zon Murray (Officer)  
    House Peters Jr. (Policeman)  
    Joseph Crehan (Inspector)  
    Tony Hughes (Inspector)  
    Bill Hale (Officer)  
    Fred Gabourie (Al)  

Summary: Jim Henry, a Marine sergeant in the Korean War, has recently been discharged and is in Las Vegas to visit an old army buddy. In a bar, Jim carelessly insults Terry Flynn, a blowsy, blonde gold digger and former fashion model, and she picks a fight with him, but they end up embracing. The next morning, while hitching a ride, Jim is picked up by the Las Vegas police and taken to an apartment where Lt. Joe White Eagle shows him Flynn’s dead body. As Jim was seen fighting with Flynn, White Eagle suspects that he may have strangled her. After Jim says that he was with his army buddy, Paul, who can verify his alibi, he realizes that the soldier was on a classified security mission and therefore was not registered at his hotel under his real name. Despite Jim’s excellent Marine record, White Eagle feels that he has enough evidence against him to hold him. However, Jim grabs his service revolver, holds the police officers at bay and escapes in one of their patrol cars, shooting out the tires on another. Driving down Highway 91, Jim turns off the road, abandons the car, changes his clothes and walks back to where he has spotted top magazine photographer Mrs. H. G. Cummings and her model Susan trying to start their disabled car. After Jim fixes the car, the ladies offer him a ride. However, before they can continue, Mrs. Cummings’ small dog runs into the road and is killed by a passing car. When they reach the Apple Valley Inn where they have a photographic assignment, Mrs. Cummings and Susan invite Jim to spend some time with them. After the abandoned patrol car is found, White Eagle decides to pursue Jim into California and orders roadblocks set up. At the inn, when a newspaper with a report of the murder and Jim’s photo is delivered to Susan and Mrs. Cummings’ room, Susan wants to call the police, but Mrs. Cummings points out that the murdered woman was the tramp her husband Harold killed himself over and therefore they might suspect her of the murder. Later, after the inn’s publicity man recognizes Jim and alerts the police, Jim takes Mrs. Cummings and Susan hostage, steals a car and crashes through a roadblock. With White Eagle and other units in pursuit, Jim manages to lose them by leaving the highway and driving across the desert. However, the car becomes stuck in sand and when Jim attempts to free it, Mrs. Cummings grabs his gun and is about to shoot him when Susan wrestles the weapon away from her, as Susan now believes that Jim may be innocent. Later, Jim tells Susan that he is scheduled to meet Paul, who can confirm his alibi, the next morning at Jim’s partially flooded house at the Salton Sea. When Jim, Mrs. Cummings and Susan reach the house, Jim gets out and tells them to leave, but Susan decides to stay with Jim as she has fallen in love with him. In the house, Jim finds a note from Paul stating that he had to leave on another assignment for the army, thereby depriving Jim of his alibi. Suddenly, White Eagle, who has tracked Jim there, appears, tells Jim that he is under arrest and orders him to put his gun down. Mrs. Cummings enters silently, picks up the gun and, as Susan is about to tell White Eagle about Flynn and Harold, shoots the lieutenant. She then tries to shoot Jim and Susan, but the gun malfunctions and she runs away and falls into what she believes is quicksand. She begs Jim to rescue her, but before doing so, he extracts a confession from her that she strangled Flynn with her dog’s leash. Jim then tells her that she was in no danger as there is no quicksand on his property.The police have overheard her confession and a wounded White Eagle orders that all charges against Jim be dropped. Jim and Susan walk off together, arm in arm. 

Production Company: William F. Broidy Pictures Corp.  
Distribution Company: Allied Artists Pictures Corp.  
Director: Nathan Juran (Dir)
  William Beaudine Jr. (Asst dir)
Producer: William F. Broidy (Exec prod)
  Jack Jungmeyer Jr. (Prod)
  A. Robert Nunes (Co-prod)
  Roger Corman (Co-prod)
Writer: Herb Meadow (Scr)
  Jerome Odlum (Scr)
  Tom Hubbard (Addl dial)
  Fred Eggers (Addl dial)
  U. S. Anderson (From a story by)
  Roger Corman (From a story by)
Photography: John Martin (Photog)
  Lloyd Garnell (Chief elect)
Art Direction: David Milton (Art dir)
Film Editor: Ace Herman (Supv film ed)
Set Decoration: Clarence Steenson (Set dec)
  James Harris (Prop master)
Costumes: Tommy Thompson (Ward)
Music: Edward J. Kay (Mus dir)
Sound: Ben Winkler (Rec)
Special Effects: Ray Mercer (Spec eff)
Make Up: Ted Coodley (Makeup)
  Carmen Dirigo (Hairstylist)
Production Misc: A. R. Milton (Prod supv)
  Joyce Upson (Set cont)
Country: United States
Language: English

Source Text:

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Allied Artists Pictures Corp. 7/2/1954 dd/mm/yyyy LP3237

Physical Properties: Sd:

Genre: Drama
Sub-Genre: Crime
Subjects (Major): Chases
  False accusations
Subjects (Minor): Alibi
  Apple Valley (CA)
  Gold diggers
  Las Vegas (NV)
  Salton Sea (CA)
  United States. Marine Corps

Note: This film's working title was House in the Sea . A HR production chart indicated that the film was being made in 3-D. No additional evidence to support that listing has been found, and the film was released "flat." 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   30 Jan 1954.   
Daily Variety   20 Jan1954   p. 3.
Film Daily   28 Jan 1954   p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter   14 Aug 1953   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   12 Dec 1953.   
Hollywood Reporter   16 Dec 1953.   
Hollywood Reporter   20 Jan 1954   p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   30 Jan 1954   p. 2166.
New York Times   20 Feb 1954   p. 8.
Variety   27 Jan 1954   p. 6.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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