They Drive by Night (1940)

Approved  |   |  Crime, Drama, Film-Noir  |  3 August 1940 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 5,224 users  
Reviews: 61 user | 40 critic

Two brothers struggle as wildcat truck drivers; one comes to harm, the other is accused of his friend's murder.



(screen play), (screen play), 1 more credit »
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Complete credited cast:
Gale Page ...
Harry McNamara
George Rondolos


Brothers Paul and Joe Fabrini run a trucking business in California mainly shipping fruit from farms to the markets in Los Angeles. They struggle to make ends meet in the face of corrupt businessmen and intense competition. They are forced into driving long hours and one night pick-up waitress Cassie Hartley who's just quit her job at a truck stop. The three of them witness the death of a mutual acquaintance when he falls asleep at the wheel. This has a profound effect on Paul and Joe and they become determined to find a way to make the business pay so they can quit. Written by Col Needham <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Thrills . . . from coast to coast . . . ! See more »


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

3 August 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

De färdas om natten  »

Box Office


$400,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Principle photography was completed in 33 days. See more »


Duirng the conversation between Joe and Carlson, Carslon lights his cigarette twice. See more »


Joe Fabrini: Some day you road skinners will be sayin', "Joe Fabrini's a good guy to work for." And I will be.
See more »


Referenced in Half Moon Street (1986) See more »


When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano
(1940) (uncredited)
Music by Leon René
Played at Mandel's Cafe
See more »

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User Reviews

The Long Haul
20 July 2002 | by (brighton, ma) – See all my reviews

This is the kind of movie that makes movie buffs movie buffs. On the surface the story is routine (I'm tempted to say hackneyed), the psychology shallow, the acting variable, and the meaning, such as it can be said to have one, borderline moronic. Yet it works like a charm, and is a minor classic of its kind. This is a tough movie to categorize. Not that one has to. It's a long haul trucker movie. But is that a genre? It has comedy and romance but is neither a comedy nor a romance; and it has tragedy but is not a tragedy. Near the end it turns into a murder story, though I wouldn't call it a crime picture. Director Raoul Walsh had a flair for subverting genres anyway, and made basically Raoul Walsh pictures, whatever the putative genre, and this one's about as Raoul Walsh as you can get.

It's the story of two brothers, played by George Raft and Humphrey Bogart, who are wildcat truckers who don't want to work for anyone else. They'd like to own their own rig but can't afford one, and are in debt up to their ears half the time. As the story progresses, Bogart loses in arm in an accident, and the boys have to go work for the boorish if amiable Alan Hale, whose wife, Ida Lupino, has eyes for Raft. Ann Sheridan is also on hand, as the hash-slinging good girl Raft really belongs with. Nothing special here, no great drama, and certainly no surprises. What drives the film, literally, is its optimism, especially as it relates to "little guys" Raft and Bogart. Without being too emphatic about it the movie is like a cheerleader for these two from start to finish.

The dialogue is salty and well-delivered by all, even the usually tedious Raft, while the background stuff,--the diners, rented rooms and garages--is beautifully detailed and always believable. Director Walsh was made for Warner Brothers, the studio that produced the film. He had a feeling for regular people, informal surroundings, the hustle and bustle of working life. Nor was he the least bit pretentious. The studio's famous liberalism didn't seem to rub off on him. He remained a populist with an anarchic streak, and was never an ideologue, hence this movie's depiction of blue collar life rings truer than most, as we know that these little guys want to be big shots (as most little guys do), and that they mean it when they say they want to give everyone a fair shake. We know in our guts that if these two ever make it to the big time they'll be awfully nice guys to work for. It's not easy for a movie to convince a viewer of such things,--it's not easy for a movie to be convincing at all, but this one is. Thanks to Raoul Walsh, with a little help from his fine cast.

32 of 40 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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they drive by night colorized waggsmom
Ida Lupino is excellent!!! Romojo
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Same plot as Bordertown (1935) berlin45
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Gale Page beats out Lupino and Sheridan rkolsen
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