They Live by Night (1948)

Approved  |   |  Crime, Film-Noir, Romance  |  5 November 1949 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 4,121 users  
Reviews: 45 user | 46 critic

An escaped convict, injured during a robbery, falls in love with the woman who nurses him back to health, but their relationship seems doomed from the beginning.



(screenplay), (adaptation), 1 more credit »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Howard Da Silva ...
Helen Craig ...
William Phipps ...
Harry Harvey ...
Marie Bryant ...
James Nolan ...
Schreiber (as Jim Nolan)
Charles Meredith ...
Comm. Hubbell
Teddy Infuhr ...
Byron Foulger ...


In the '40s, three prisoners flee from a state prison farm in Mississippi. Among them is 23-years-young Bowie, who spent the last seven years in prison and now hopes to be able to prove his innocence or retire to a home in the mountains and live in peace together with his new love, Keechie. But his criminal companions persuade him to participate in several heists, and soon the police believe him to be their leader and go after "Bowie the Kid" harder than ever. Written by Tom Zoerner <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


"We're in a Jam!" See more »


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

5 November 1949 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Your Red Wagon  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The film lost USD$445,000 in its initial release in the USA. See more »


The new Cadillac is seen to be covered with a tarpaulin. When the camera swings back to it, the tarpaulin has vanished. See more »


[last lines]
Catherine 'Keechie' Mobley: [reading Bowie's letter to herself] "Hello girl. I'm gonna miss you. I gotta do it this way... I'll send for both of you when I can... no matter how long it takes, I gotta see that kid... he's lucky; he'll have you to keep him squared around."
Catherine 'Keechie' Mobley: I love you, Bowie.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits: This boy... and this girl... were never properly introduced to the world we live in... To tell their story... See more »


Referenced in At the Movies: Dune/Starman/Mass Appeal/Runaway (1984) See more »


Oh Promise Me
Music by Reginald De Koven
Arranged by Leigh Harline
See more »

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User Reviews

Actually quite good
15 June 1999 | by (Calgary, AB) – See all my reviews

An early, nearly-forgotten picture from the director of "Rebel Without a Cause", this story of fugitive love (though not in the same was as "Bonnie and Clyde" or "Gun Crazy") is in its own right a rather accomplished picture.

Farley Granger is best remembered for his Hitchcock roles, and he gives a good, multifaceted performance. It's clear from the get-go that despite the company he keeps and despite his time in prison, he's really a scared, uncertain kid. Cathy O'Donnell is all but forgotten, but here gives a nearly Oscar-calibre performance, extremely convincing and appealing as his naive bride.

The film is also notable for early use of helicopter shots of cars, and for its refusal to vilify either the criminals or the cops (one of the policemen admits that "the system failed him", an astonishing statement for 1949).

All in all, a film which deserves to be resurrected from its obscurity.

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