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They Live by Night (1948)

Approved  |   |  Crime, Film-Noir, Romance  |  5 November 1949 (USA)
Your rating:
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 4,061 users  
Reviews: 46 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?


Nicholas Ray's first directing credit. 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 »


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 »


Edited into Histoire(s) du cinéma: Le contrôle de l'univers (1998) See more »


Adeste Fideles
Attributed to John Francis Wade
Arranged by Leigh Harline
See more »

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User Reviews

The birth of a new voice in American cinema.
6 September 1999 | by (Canberra, Australia) – See all my reviews

This is not a great film but it marks the directorial debut of Nicholas Ray, one of the most original directors of the 1950's. From the startling pre-credit sequence on, it is clear that here is a striking new cinematic voice. Unfortunately the story he has to tell is not very interesting, but the way he tells it must have astonished audiences in 1949. From unusual aerial shots, to brilliant extreme close-ups, to great shots inside cars, Ray takes us on a new type of film journey. He also lovingly films his two pretty young leads and extracts strong performances from them. This is a film to be admired rather than loved, but no student of film should miss it.

9 of 18 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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