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They Drive by Night (1940)

Approved  |   |  Crime, Drama, Film-Noir  |  3 August 1940 (USA)
7.3
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 4,971 users  
Reviews: 61 user | 37 critic

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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...
...
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Gale Page ...
...
...
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Harry McNamara
...
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:

Thrills . . . from coast to coast . . . ! 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  »

Box Office

Budget:

$400,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The wife of producer Mark Hellinger, Gladys Glad, a former showgirl for Broadway producer Florenz Ziegfeld Jr., was responsible for getting this film made. Hellinger had brought home a large stack of scripts that he was to read for filming consideration. He had leafed through the script and read the summary, but felt that "nobody would pay money to see a bunch of truck drivers". His wife read this script, liked it and pressured Hellinger to read it. Reluctantly, he did, the film eventually got made and became the sleeper hit of the year for Warners. It was made for an estimated $400,000 and grossed more than $4,000,000. (Source: Book "The Mark Hellinger Story" by Jim Bishop, New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1952) See more »

Goofs

When Joe and Paul's truck crashes, a motorist in a 1933 Cadillac with California license number 2N 214 stops to give assistance. Later, at Ed and Lana Carlson's anniversary party the same car (and same license number) is shown as one of Ed's cars as he demonstrates his garage door opener. See more »

Quotes

Sue Carter: Oh, this leaves me speechless.
'Irish' McGurn: Good. Stay that way.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Sex, Censorship and the Silver Screen: Censored (1996) 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

 
Fantastic film noir
18 November 2007 | by (Beverley Hills, England) – See all my reviews

The film noir 'genre' has delivered a lot of great films, but few top this one; and that's really saying something considering just how many great noirs there are. The film is something of an odd one with regards to the way the plot moves; it's really a movie of three sections, and the way it jumps from the first section to the second section is wholly unexpected. I suppose the way that the film moves may be the reason why this isn't universally accepted as one of the best films of its type; but if you ask me the strange plot is one of the film's strongest points - nobody wants to sit through a predictable movie, and They Drive by Night is anything but predictable. The plot focuses on two brothers - Joe and Paul Fabrini. The pair drive a truck delivering things to the market and not making a lot of money. They finally get a break when Joe takes a risk and decides to buy his own consignment; but their luck takes a turn for the worse when Paul crashes the truck and becomes unable to work. Joe then takes a job working for his old friend Ed's company, which brings about problems of its own...

One of the trademarks of the noir style of film-making is a thick foreboding atmosphere; this film features that and then some. They Drive by Night takes it further than most, and the film almost has an affinity with the horror genre for its dark atmosphere, plot and characters. Once the film moves into the second stage, the horror elements are rampant. The acting in the film is excellent; George Raft and Humphrey Bogart are entirely convincing as the rag-tag pair of brothers, while excellent support is given from two ladies; Ann Sheridan and Ida Lupino. It's Ida Lupino that really makes this film what it is for me; her icy cold persona is breathtaking, and she holds the screen excellently. The murder scene in this film is extremely effective also; and while not as spectacular as some of the death scenes in the gory horror flicks that I often watch, its subtleness makes it memorable. The final third of the film is a courtroom drama and it's the worst part of it for me, but that isn't enough to ruin what is a brilliant film and I certainly would not hesitate to recommend They Drive by Night to noir fans and everyone else.


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Recent Posts
they drive by night colorized waggsmom
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