They Live by Night (1948)

Passed   |    |  Crime, Film-Noir, Romance


They Live by Night (1948) Poster

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.


7.5/10
6,934

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28 December 2007 | ccthemovieman-1
8
| Noir Tales Of 'Keechie,' 'T-Dub, "Chickamaw' And Other Common Names
This was the first pairing of Farley Granger and Cathy O'Donnell and it was successful enough so that the two worked together two years later in "Side Street. I heard that this movie was sort of a early "Bonnie and Clyde," and it was, but only to a degree.

Granger and O'Donnell didn't really dominate the screen until after 40 minutes but after that, it was mostly them. Frankly, I enjoyed the first 40 minutes best when Howard da Silva and J.C. Flippen shared the screen time. They were great film noir characters in this movie (and they did come back in the second half, livening up the film again.) I liked their names in here: da Silva was "Chicamaw." and Flippen was "T-Dub." In most of the second half of this movie, it went from a noir to a romance. but that's not surprising knowing the director was Nicholas Ray.

This is the best I've ever seen O'Donnell, who never impressed me much but she's impressive here with a fine performance and a nice '40s look to her. She had a strange character name, too: "Keechie." Granger ("Arthur Bowers") does a nice job, too. For an uneducated thug, he sure comes across as a really nice guy. It's kinda of weird. He reminded me of John Dall in "Gun Crazy" (1950). Some of the camera-work also reminded me of "Gun Crazy."

However, one major detail should be noted: unlike "Gun Crazy" and "Bonnie & Clyde," the two lovers in this movie did NOT rob banks together. O'Donnell's character never gets involved in any crime, so comparing this film to those doesn't really fit. Most of "Keechie's" time is spent living in a remote cabin lodge, and suggesting periodically to her husband that he go straight - a far cry from the women Peggy Cummins and Faye Dunaway played.

Like a lot of good film noirs, this also has some very good supporting actors who play weird people, and say weird things. Some of the dialogue in this movie is fascinating because it's so odd. One example is the guy who marries the couple for $20. Another is Keechie's father.

This is a odd little "B" noir/melodrama and definitely one that film noir fans should check out. Romantics will like it, too. I'm glad it is now available on disc, as part of the Film Noir Classics Collection Volume 4.

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