Rent They Live by Night (1948)

3.8 of 5 from 70 ratings
1h 32min
Rent They Live by Night (aka Your Red Wagon / Thieves Like Us) Online DVD & Blu-ray Rental
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Legendary director Nicholas Ray began his career with this lyrical film noir, the first in a series of existential genre films overflowing with sympathy for America's outcasts and underdogs. When the wide-eyed fugitive Bowie (Farley Granger), having broken out of prison with some bank robbers, meets the innocent Keechie (Cathy O'Donnell), each recognizes something in the other that no one else ever has. The young lovers envision a new, decent life together, but as they flee the cops and contend with Bowie's fellow outlaws, who aren't about to let him go straight, they realize there's nowhere left to run.
Ray brought an outsider's sensibility honed in the theater to this debut, using revolutionary camera techniques and naturalistic performances to craft a profoundly romantic crime drama that paved the way for decades of lovers-on-the-run thrillers to come.
, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Paul Bakanas, Regan Callais,
John Houseman
Charles Schnee, Nicholas Ray, Edward Anderson
Your Red Wagon / Thieves Like Us
Classics, Drama, Romance
Release Date:
Not released
Run Time:
92 minutes
  • Artistic Sheet
  • Data Sheet
  • Biographies
  • Filmographies
Release Date:
Run Time:
95 minutes
English LPCM Mono
English Hard of Hearing
Aspect Ratio:
Full Screen 1.37:1
B & W
BLU-RAY Regions:
  • Audio commentary from 2007 featuring film historian Eddie Muller and actor Farley Granger
  • New interview with critic Imogen Sara Smith
  • Short piece from 2007 with critic Molly Haskell, filmmakers Christopher Coppola and Oliver Stone, and film noir specialists Alain Silver and James Ursini
  • Illustrated audio excerpts from a 1956 interview with producer John Houseman

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Reviews (1) of They Live by Night

Good but not classic road noir. - They Live by Night review by Steve Mason

Spoiler Alert

Nicholas Ray's debut film from Edward Anderson's depression era novel Thieves Like Us.

It's the story of a teenage couple on the run from both the police and their gang, their lives wrecked by poverty and their lack of education. It's a decent, though not brilliant film, certainly not as great as Fritz Lang's similar You Only Live Once (1937). But if you love the black and white road films of the film noir era (also, Gun Crazy, They Drive By Night, Thieves Highway etc) then it is a must see.

These films seem to have a slender thread leading back to the outlaws of the western and have the same sort of rootless rural destitution, set as they were around the depression. The noirish pools of darkness are perfect for the restless feel of the trucks and cars roaming the unlit highways. Every new town brings either the kindness of strangers or impulsive spite as they face being given away by the radio bulletin or the newspaper headline.

There is no hope or escape in these films, as in film noir generally. Which is the perennial irony of the road film. Well worth seeing for lovers of the genre.

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