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They Live by Night (1948)

Approved  |   |  Crime, Film-Noir, Romance  |  5 November 1949 (USA)
7.6
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 4,020 users  
Reviews: 46 user | 45 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.

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(screenplay), (adaptation), 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Howard Da Silva ...
...
Helen Craig ...
...
William Phipps ...
...
Hawkins
Harry Harvey ...
Hagenheimer
Marie Bryant ...
Singer
...
James Nolan ...
Schreiber (as Jim Nolan)
Charles Meredith ...
Comm. Hubbell
Teddy Infuhr ...
Alvin
Byron Foulger ...
Lambert
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Storyline

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 <Tom.Zoerner@informatik.uni-erlangen.de>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

"We're in a Jam!" See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

5 November 1949 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Your Red Wagon  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

French visa # 10588. See more »

Goofs

The breeze on the bushes makes it obvious that a helicopter is shooting the opening scene. See more »

Quotes

Mr. Hawkins, Wedding Chapel Proprietor: [Bowie has just asked Hawkins to arrange a passage to Mexico for Keechie and himself] Son, I'd sure like that money. I'm old, and money's a real comfort to an old man. I believe in helping people get what they want as long as they pay for it. I marry people 'cos there's a little hope they'll be happy. But I can't take this money of yours. No sir. In a way I'm a thief just the same as you are, but I won't sell you hope when there ain't any.
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 »

Connections

Featured in Film Noir: Bringing Darkness to Light (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

I Know Where I'm Going
(uncredited)
Traditional
Arranged by Leigh Harline
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Wonderful Film in the Tradition of "Bonnie and Clyde"
17 May 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"They Live By Night" joins "Gun Crazy" (1949) and "Bonnie and Clyde" (1967) to form a little trilogy of remarkable films in the "lovers-on-the-lam" sub-genre. Nicholas Ray's film has much in common with "Gun Crazy," both in look and theme, but it's a much warmer and more emotionally effective piece of film-making. Peggy Cummins gave a fascinating performance in "Gun Crazy" as a flinty, unbelievably callous femme fatale; Cathy O'Donnell in "They Live By Night" will break your heart.

Indeed, the acting is probably this film's greatest asset, and it enables what in all respects is a B movie to feel like an A one. Farley Granger and O'Donnell bring wonderful nuances to their roles, and they have a naturalistic style of acting that feels ahead of its time when compared to other films from the same period. Howard da Silva is also tremendous in the supporting role of Chickamaw, managing to create a grotesque character who nevertheless feels at home in the very human world created by Ray. And Helen Craig shines in a small but vital role as Mattie, who may be the most heartless character in the film.

At a time when America most likely just wanted to hurry up and get everything back to normal, how shocking that a film like this would emerge. The domestic contentment that Granger and O'Donnell establish for themselves is a sham; they know it and we know it. They're living on borrowed time, and the things that the average American strived for in a booming post-war climate--loving spouse, children, safe and secure home--exist in this film as taunting reminders of blessings this couple can never have.

And the ending---that could have been so sentimental and is instead in Ray's hands so spare and sad---just may well take your breath away.

Grade: A+


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