1948 / 95m - USA
Crime, Romance
They Live by Night poster


July 13, 2021


Nicholas Ray's first film is a tepid mix of film-noir and romantic drama, with a stronger focus on the latter. For its time, it appears to be a film that strived for a more realistic approach to the relationship between the two leads, but Ray was clearly still looking for ways to properly accomplish this.

Bowie escapes prison with two other detainees. Once out, he hopes to settle down with Cathy, a young girl who falls for his charms. It doesn't take long before Bowie's former mates drag him back into a life of crime. The police is right on Bowie's tail, only he isn't willing to go back to prison.

If you're hoping for hardened criminals and exciting heists or chases, this won't be for you. Ray skips most of the classic film noir elements and instead aims his camera at the two leads. Their performances are too basic to support the drama and Ray's styling falls short, making this a pretty dull and uneventful drama. Not a good start.