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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
"Lux Radio Theater" broadcast a 60 minute radio adaptation of the movie on June 2, 1941 with George Raft reprising his film role. See more »
When you first see Joe as Traffic Manager the trucks had the name CARLSENS FRIEGHT SERVICE printed on them. But later on after Joe becomes a partner in the business and he's out in the warehouse inspecting the new trucks; some trucks now read CARLSEN while others still read CARLSENS. See more »
[spraying himself with a hose at a service station]
This is the nearest thing I've had to a bath in two weeks.
Yeah, I noticed.
See more »
Devil May Care
Music by Harry Warren
Played when Joe is leaving the party See more »
Fantastic film noir
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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