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