55 user 69 critic

They Live by Night (1948)

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.


Nicholas Ray


Charles Schnee (screenplay), Nicholas Ray (adaptation) | 1 more credit »

On Disc

at Amazon


Learn more

More Like This 

Side Street (1950)
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A struggling young father-to-be gives in to temptation and impulsively steals money from the office of a shady lawyer - with catastrophic consequences.

Director: Anthony Mann
Stars: Farley Granger, Cathy O'Donnell, James Craig
Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Rough city cop Jim Wilson is disciplined by his captain and is sent upstate, to a snowy mountain town, to help the local sheriff solve a murder case.

Directors: Nicholas Ray, Ida Lupino
Stars: Ida Lupino, Robert Ryan, Ward Bond
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A seriously ill schoolteacher becomes dependent on a "miracle" drug that begins to affect his sanity.

Director: Nicholas Ray
Stars: James Mason, Barbara Rush, Walter Matthau
Drama | Film-Noir | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A potentially violent screenwriter is a murder suspect until his lovely neighbor clears him. But she begins to have doubts.

Director: Nicholas Ray
Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Gloria Grahame, Frank Lovejoy
Gun Crazy (1950)
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A well meaning crack shot husband is pressured by his beautiful marksman wife to go on an interstate robbery spree, where he finds out just how depraved and deadly she really is.

Director: Joseph H. Lewis
Stars: John Dall, Peggy Cummins, Berry Kroeger
Drama | Film-Noir | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A war-veteran-turned-truck driver attempts to avenge the crippling and robbing of his father at the hands of an amoral produce scofflaw.

Director: Jules Dassin
Stars: Richard Conte, Valentina Cortese, Lee J. Cobb
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A major heist goes off as planned, until bad luck and double crosses cause everything to unravel.

Director: John Huston
Stars: Sterling Hayden, Louis Calhern, Jean Hagen
Johnny Guitar (1954)
Drama | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

After helping a wounded gang member, a strong-willed female saloon owner is wrongly suspected of murder and bank robbery by a lynch mob.

Director: Nicholas Ray
Stars: Joan Crawford, Sterling Hayden, Mercedes McCambridge
The Lusty Men (1952)
Action | Drama | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Retired rodeo champion Jeff McCloud agrees to mentor novice rodeo contestant Wes Merritt against the wishes of Merritt's wife who fears the dangers of this rough sport.

Directors: Nicholas Ray, Robert Parrish
Stars: Susan Hayward, Robert Mitchum, Arthur Kennedy
Party Girl (1958)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Lawyer Tommy Farrell is a defender of crooks. Vicki Gaye encourages him to go straight, but mob king Rico Angelo insists otherwise.

Director: Nicholas Ray
Stars: Robert Taylor, Cyd Charisse, Lee J. Cobb
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

An otherwise moral captain of a charter boat becomes financially strapped and is drawn into illegal activities in order to keep up payments on his boat.

Director: Michael Curtiz
Stars: John Garfield, Patricia Neal, Phyllis Thaxter
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

After being hired to find an ex-con's former girlfriend, Philip Marlowe is drawn into a deeply complex web of mystery and deceit.

Director: Edward Dmytryk
Stars: Dick Powell, Claire Trevor, Anne Shirley


Cast overview, first billed only:
Cathy O'Donnell ... Keechie
Farley Granger ... Bowie
Howard Da Silva ... Chickamaw
Jay C. Flippen ... T-Dub
Helen Craig Helen Craig ... Mattie
Will Wright ... Mobley
William Phipps ... Young Farmer
Ian Wolfe ... Hawkins
Harry Harvey ... Hagenheimer
Marie Bryant Marie Bryant ... Singer
Will Lee ... Jeweler
James Nolan ... Schreiber (as Jim Nolan)
Charles Meredith ... Comm. Hubbell
Teddy Infuhr Teddy Infuhr ... Alvin
Byron Foulger ... Lambert


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


"WE'RE IN A JAM! You're crazy to stick to me... but I'd rather die than let you go!" See more »


Passed | See all certifications »






Release Date:

5 November 1949 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Your Red Wagon See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Robert Mitchum lobbied unsuccessfully for the role of Chicamaw. He told Nicholas Ray that he was very familiar with bank robbers and chain gangs, and even cut and dyed his hair black (in the original treatment Chicamaw was an Indian). He was rejected because he had recently been nominated for an Oscar, and a supporting role was considered unworthy for a rising star. 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 »


Bowie: [waking up mother on bus] Ma'am, you're baby's crying.
Mother on Bus: Well, I've been on this bus three days. When we get to the next stop, I'll fix her bottle.
[ignoring the baby and going back to sleep]
Mother on Bus: Till then, I just don't care.
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 »


God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
Arranged by Leigh Harline
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

A noir classic from Nicholas Ray
15 October 2014 | by dfranzen70See all my reviews

In Nicholas Ray's seminal crime drama They Live by Night, injured bank robber Bowie (Farley Granger) falls for the independent young rancher's daughter Keechie (Cathy O'Donnell), and the two use Bowie's ill-gotten gains to distance themselves from the authorities and the rest of Bowie's gang.

Bowie is the gang's wheelman, and when he's injured during a getaway, it's his newfound companion Keechie who gets to nurse him back to health while the others - Chickamaw (Howard da Silva) and T-Dub (Jay C. Flippen) - make themselves scarce. Keechie doesn't think much of her patient and his lifestyle. And make no mistake, Bowie feels little shame in his role, which has included murder. No bright-eyed neophyte, he. But there's something about Keechie, her deliberate movements, her slinky smile, that really appeals to Bowie, and the two slowly fall for each other.

The first shot by Ray (in his directorial debut) is an early helicopter angle, as the bad boys speed down a rural road as they escape from jail. In fact, it's the first helicopter action shot, as previous uses of the vehicle were simply to shoot landscapes to set a scene. In any event, a tire is blown and the gang heads toward a farmhouse, where they meet farmer Mobley (Will Wright) and his daughter Keechie. There's chemistry just dripping between Granger and O'Donnell; both seem more naive than they truly are, and although each pretends to dislike the other, it's not long before them old hormones come a-knocking, although not too much, because this is 1948, after all, and the movie's set some 15 years earlier. On the run they go! Ray's first feature is strikingly shot. Aside from that iconic opening helicopter shot, there's also a great little scene of the gang pulling off a job - from Bowie's perspective as the driver. A bystander tries to engage Bowie in conversation just as T-Dub and Chickamaw run out of the building, earning him a rough shove to the face. That's noir film for you. Watch your face! O'Donnell and Granger work very well together (no surprise, since the latter recommended the former for the role), although I think most of the appeal comes from O'Donnell, who turns in a graceful, passionate, and unique performance as the trusting Keechie. Granger, appearing in only his third film (with Rope on the horizon) was never really that good of an actor, and so many of his lines are delivered in an almost nonchalant monotone that you wonder if some lessons weren't in his immediate future. At least no one can accuse him of hamming it up.

And do you know who produced this masterpiece? None other than the great John Houseman, who most of us remember from his old Smith-Barney commercials but who was also one of Orson Welles' Mercury Theatre performers back in the day. The man knew talent, and he picked Nicholas Ray to direct without input from the studio. It's to Houseman's credit that the movie's as good as it is - which is to say, a true noir classic. There may not be a Bonnie and Clyde ending, but we're not talking about a Disney finale, either. Bonus cameo - the jeweler who sells Bowie a watch is played by none other than Will Lee. Yes, the same Will Lee who would go on to play Mr. Hooper on Sesame Street.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 55 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Action and Adventure Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular action and adventure titles available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial

Recently Viewed