They Drive by Night (1939)

 |  Crime, Thriller  |  12 June 1939 (UK)
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 151 users  
Reviews: 14 user | 4 critic

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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Title: They Drive by Night (1939)

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Director: Walter R. Booth


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


See all certifications »




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

Do not give up on this movie.
12 August 2009 | by (New York City) – See all my reviews

"They Drive By Night" (not to be confused with the Bogart) had a rare showing in a New York theater in 2009, as part of a series on British film noir. The only reason the theater screening matters is because of crowd reaction. And the reaction to this film, especially the final sequences, was absolutely joyous.

The movie is at least 2/3rds over before one of the main characters appears, the former schoolmaster Walter Hoover, played by the unbelievably urbane, stick-figure-thin Ernest Thesiger. The camera starts on his hands, so you only see what he's doing-- pasting newspaper clippings about lurid murders into a scrapbook-- but when his face is finally revealed, the whole audience seemed to sit a bit straighter, and we stayed that way through the end, reacting with open delight to this character's every movement, his every phrase.

I mean to take nothing away from the star of the film, Emlyn Williams (who wrote almost as many films as he starred in), but Ernest Thesiger was capable of turning a lousy movie into a watchable one, and a good movie into an unforgettable one. This is definitely the latter.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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