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Divided Highway: The Story of 'They Drive by Night' (2003)

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Himself - Film Historian
Eric Lax ...
Himself - Bogart Biographer
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Documentary | Short

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4 November 2003 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Features They Drive by Night (1940) See more »

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This Film Made A Star Out Of Lupino, But Not Bogart
20 August 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

An unseen and unbilled narrator of this "documentary" said some interesting things right off the bat on this feature on the DVD.

"Released in 1940, 'They Drive By Night' was an immediate hit and marked watershed years for Humphrey Bogart and Ida Lupino, even though its seems to have fallen between the cracks of great films of Bogart," he said. "One reason is that it doesn't fit into one category. Is it a David vs. Goliath story of small time truckers going up against a well-funded corporation, or is it a film noir/soap opera complete with a femme fatale and a sucker waiting to be taken? The answer lies not in the middle but on both sides of the truckers' road."

Warner Brothers was known for recycling scripts, said historian/film critic Leonard Maltin. "That's what they did here," he noted. "They took 'Border Town' a Paul Muni-Bette Davis film and re-worked it with a new story about truck drivers."

"This film just crackles with energy and Rauol Walsh knew how to direct films like that," said Maltin.

On the last half of this bonus feature, we hear more comments about Walsh, and all the leading actors in here: George Raft, Humphrey Bogart, Ida Lupino and Ann Sheridan.

Some comments I found interesting: sick of playing the heavy, George Raft was looking for a script that would change his image. Producers didn't mind; they knew Raft was good box-office. Bogart, like Raft, was always playing gangsters but wasn't the star Raft was at that time. "He was the expendable guy that could be killed in the ninth reel," said Eric Lax, a Bogart biographer.

Bogart burned with ambition and was looking for an opportunity to break out of the pack, and wasn't happy during the filming of this movie, being billed fourth and being killed off fairly early on again. To him, this was another dead- end role.

Young Ida Lupino, it was said here, stole the film stole the film and her Hollywood career took off. She, Bogart and Walsh all worked together in their next film, "High Sierra," in which Bogart finally got his wish and became a star.

Walsh shot the film in exact sequence in five weeks. I bet they don't do that anymore.


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