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They Drive by Night (1940)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 3 August 1940 (USA)
Two brothers struggle as wildcat truck drivers; one comes to harm, the other is accused of his friend's murder.

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(screen play), (screen play) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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Pearl Fabrini
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Harry McNamara
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George Rondolos
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Storyline

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 <col@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

NO PICTURE IN 1940 WILL HAVE BIGGER THRILLS (original one-sheet poster) See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

3 August 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

De färdas om natten  »

Filming Locations:

 »

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Box Office

Budget:

$400,000 (estimated)

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$4,000,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The brother's monthly $100 truck payment would be the equivalent of $1742 in 2016. They bought the load of lemons for $116, the equivalent of $2000, and sold it for $580, the equivalent of $9,999. See more »

Goofs

In the prison an electric eye door opens when Lana Carlsen and the guard breaks the ray. Afterwards they break the ray several more times without the door moving until it finally closes after they enter the other room. See more »

Quotes

Joe Fabrini: l ain't danced in a long time.
Cassie Hartley: Me neither, and l used to love it. lt's the most fun you can have without laughing.
See more »

Connections

Featured in The Long Haul of A.I. Bezzerides (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Devil May Care
(1940) (uncredited)
Music by Harry Warren
Played when Joe is leaving the party
See more »

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User Reviews

Two Pics For The Price Of One
1 March 2010 | by See all my reviews

In a story about the over-the-road trucking business, two wildcat truckers, named Joe (George Raft) and Paul (Humphrey Bogart) haul apples, pears, and lemons, enduring hardship and erratic wages. Joe and Paul are the brothers Fabrini, and they dream of being independent from the big boss man.

A Depression-era story set in California, "They Drive By Night" taps into the theme of hard-working Americans who can't make a decent wage, as a result of greedy corporations. In a roadside diner, Paul expresses their frustration: "Hey, why do we stay in this racket? We aren't going to make enough out of it to buy ourselves decent coffins". But Joe and Paul are tough dudes, and they're honest. And they've got their dames, waiting either at home or in their dreams.

The film's plot starts out okay with lots of highway action. But the midpoint plot turn sends the film hurling in an unfortunate direction. Enter Lana Carlsen (Ida Lupino), the irritatingly angry wife of a wealthy and irritatingly jovial corporate boss. The film's first and second halves are like two completely different films, each with a different focus, different tone, different style. The first half is gritty and noir-based. The second half is perfunctory.

The script is very talky. The best dialogue comes near the beginning when Ann Sheridan, playing a cynical waitress, tosses some really good zingers.

Characters are mildly interesting, except for the dreadful Lana Carlsen, whom I didn't like at all. Sue Carter (Joyce Compton) offers minor comic relief. And Ann Sheridan is a delight to watch.

Production design ranges from dirty and gritty in the first half to elegant and snazzy in the second. Those trucks the guys drive look like something out of "The Grapes Of Wrath" (1940). B&W cinematography is pleasantly dark in the first half, routine in the second.

The story's theme is appropriate for the era in which the film was made. But the plot is terribly bifocal. The viewer almost gets two films for the price of one.


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