1937 / 86m - USA
Crime, Thriller
You Only Live Once poster


May 15, 2023


One of Fritz Lang's early USA films. His move to the US drove him to the noir genre, a disappointing switch that made the latter half of his career a lot less appealing. You Only Live Once falls prey to the pitfalls most 30s films faced: exaggerated performances mixed with an overabundance of dialogue.

After sitting out three convictions in jail, Taylor decides to better his life. When he gets together with Joan he makes a real effort, but an unlucky coincidence turns him into the lead suspect of a bank robbery. He is jailed once again, and apart from Joan nobody believes in his innocence. All Taylor cares about is to be reunited with the woman he loves.

The performances are overstated, the plot is pretty simplistic and the endless chatter is distracting. The final third gets a bit more visual, with some moodier moments, but the black-and-white cinematography isn't distinguished enough to make a real difference. It's all just very generic.