Thanks for mentioning this GREAT movie!
I love all the wonderful ambience of THIEVES' HIGHWAY, no matter what, but Dassin takes the visuals to a whole other level because of his beautiful "framing" of every shot.
My fave star of all time is Richard Conte. And I feel he is one of the very few actors who could do a villain AND a kind man with equal skill, in so many films.
In NEW YORK CONFIDENTIAL, he's a professional (and non-feeling) mob hit-man.
In FULL OF LIFE he's a kind, adorable, proper husband to Judy Holliday.
My big beef with THE GODFATHER is that Al Pacino just could not play the cruel man he became. He just did not have the presence for the level of that character.
But Richard Conte could. And, THE GODFATHER was based on 3 of his films: THE BROTHERS RICO, NEW YORK CONFIDENTIAL, and HOUSE OF STRANGERS.