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They Drive by Night (1938)

A convict, just out of prison, is implicated in a murder and goes on the run, hitching a ride with a truck driver.



(novel), (screenplay) | 2 more credits »


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Credited cast:
Emlyn Williams ...
Anna Konstam ...
Allan Jeayes ...
Anthony Holles ...
Ronald Shiner ...
Yolande Terrell ...
Julie Barrie ...
Kitty de Legh ...
Mrs. Mason
Bus Conductor (as Billy Hartnell)
Simon Lack ...
Roy Allen - brother of man to be executed
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Iris Vandeleur ...
Flower Seller


A convict, just out of prison, is implicated in a murder and goes on the run, hitching a ride with a truck driver.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

british noir | based on novel | See All (2) »


Crime | Thriller


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Release Date:

12 June 1939 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Efter mörkrets inbrott  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Photophone)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

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User Reviews

Although released through Warner Brothers, it has nothing to do with the 1940 film.
9 August 2014 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

This 1938 film was released in the US by Warner Brothers and I assume it was made by their British division originally (due to British laws, several of the big US studios had British divisions making films as well). Regardless, it has nothing much to do with the more famous 1940 film by Warner.

The film finds Shorty Matthews (Emlyn Williams) getting out of prison at the same time an inmate is being executed. This is significant because Short is rather ambivalent towards the man's plight--and soon he'll be in a similar position. This occurs when Shorty goes to visit an old girlfriend and he finds her dead. Instead of handling it like a guy with a brain, he runs--and ends up making everyone think he's the killer. Instead of going to the police, this guy spends the rest of the movie avoiding the police dragnet and trying to figure out who is the real killer.

The film has a few minor flaws. I guess I could accept that Shorty was stupid but perhaps not too unusual for avoiding the police. However, the ending, while really cool to watch, really didn't make a lot of sense. But, the film has a lot of tension and some nice performances. Overall, the good far outweighs the bad and the film is worth your time.

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