Warner Bros. Pictures presents "THEY DRIVE BY NIGHT" (3 August 1940) (95 min/B&W) (Fully Restored/Dolby Digitally Remastered) --
They Drive by Night benefited from a strong supporting cast culled from the studio's stock company --- Generally regarded as Raft's best Warner Brothers film, and the beautiful Ann Sheridan was allowed the most memorable, snappy dialogue, which she delivered as only Sheridan could --- Ida Lupino was finally given the chance to display her acting range and Bogart got the opportunity to shed his patented B-picture tough guy --- Check out his brief yet compelling scene, where he expresses his bitterness both at his injury and having to accept what he perceives as his brother's (Raft) charity as wild cat truck drivers.
My favorite line in the film is when some trucker is checking out Ann Sheridan and mumbles something about taking out a mortgage on her -- Ann snaps back at him while taking on a seductive pose - "You couldn't afford the headlights!"
Under the production staff of:
Raoul Walsh [Director]
Jerry Wald [Screenplay]
Richard Macaulay [Screenplay]
A.I. Bezzerides [novel "Long Haul"]
Mark Hellinger [Associate Producer]
Hal B. Wallis [Executive Producer]
Adolph Deutsch [Original Music]
Arthur Edeson [Cinematographer]
Thomas Richards [Film Editor]
1. Raoul Walsh [Director]
Date of Birth: 11 March 1887 - New York City, New York
Date of Death: 31 December 1980 - Simi Valley, California
the cast includes:
George Raft - Joe Fabrini
Ann Sheridan - Cassie Hartley
Ida Lupino - Lana Carlsen
Humphrey Bogart - Paul Fabrini
Gale Page - Pearl Fabrini
Alan Hale - Ed Carlsen
Roscoe Karns - Irish McGurn
John Litel - Harry McNamara
George Tobias - George Rondolos
Mr. Jim's Ratings:
Quality of Picture & Sound: 4 Stars
Performance: 4 Stars
Story & Screenplay: 4 Stars
Overall: 4 Stars [Original Music, Cinematography & Film Editing]
Total Time: 95 min on DVD ~ Warner Bros. Pictures ~ (10/03/2006)
"They Drive by Night",released in July 1940 and a remake of a British film done just two years earlier,is an absorbing tale of two men in that decades old venerable trade of long haul trucking;the men who ply the roadways at night delivering the goods from point A to point B.
The story here involves the Fabrini brothers, Paul(Bogie)and Joe(Raft) who own their truck but work for a crooked boss.They,like many others,get stiffed when it comes to getting paid.When their truck unexpectedly breaks down they have a final confrontation with their boss,collect their dues by force and leave his employ.The boys have been told they should hook up with Carlsen trucking where they get paid a salary and the company takes all the risk,but at this point they like the independent life too much.One day Joe takes a gamble and buys a load of lemons to haul,thereby becoming their own bosses.While on the road Paul falls asleep at the wheel and runs off the road.The truck,which they had just paid off,is a ruin and while Joe had been thrown clear of the crash,Paul comes out of it minus his right arm.
As Paul convalesces at home,Joe finally relents and goes to work for Mr Carlsen(Alan Hale).Carlsen is a straight shooting and very affable man and treats Joe very well.However his wife Lana(Ida Lupino) has had a crush on Joe for a long time and refuses to let Joe alone.Lana is a frustrated individual who hates her life with Carlsen.And even though Joe has fallen for a waitress he came to know by the name of Cassie(Ann Sheridan),it still doesn't deter Lana from her pursuit of Joe.After a
long night of partying Lana drives her husband home and parks the car in their garage.She sits thinking for a moment about everything and her expression alone tells us what is to come.She walks out of the garage,the car still running, and closes the doors behind her.Her husband is of course found dead the next day and after a short routine interrogation by the D.A., she is let go.
Now that she is "free" of her burden she finds her life alone isn't exactly a bed of roses.She brings Joe in to the firm as a half partner,trying to get him closer to her.After a particularly nasty confrontation with Lana, Joe reveals he is going to marry his fiance.Lana in a fit of rage reveals she killed her husband for him.Joe is shocked and leaves.Lana thinks Joe may head for the police so she beats him to the punch and claims to the police it was Joe that made her kill her husband under duress.A trial ensues and Lana,worn down in body and spirit, takes the stand.She just stares into oblivion and starts to rant on to herself and the crowded courtroom.It turns out to be a bizarre confession and Joe is set free,while Lana goes back to a long incarceration;very much insane.
The movie ends with Joe wanting to leave the Carlsen firm and strike out on his own again.But the workers,with a little bit of help from Cassie,talk him out of going.Fade to black.
This story grabs you right from the beginning.The two main characters of Joe and Paul are very likable,as are most of the other drivers,Joes girlfriend Cassie,and Mr Carlsen played very well by Alan Hale Sr.(father to the future skipper of the SS Minnow!).So when a bad element is thrown into the mix it really stands out.Lupino plays a beautiful part here of a frustrated wife who is hemmed in by her matrimonial obligations and longs for something she can't nor will never have.Her frustration goes to anger then is vented in cold blooded murder then ultimately it drives her insane.That moment in the garage as the camera is focused strictly on her face and we watch her thought processes right before our eyes is just plain great acting...period.
Raft,along with Cagney and Robinson,were the top tough guys of this era(Bogie would soon join the group).Raft,like Cagney,had great talent in the dancing department(see his film "Bolero"/34,for a taste) and he was at the top of his career at this point.Unlike Cagney and Robinson though,Raft really did have connections to racketeers and openly admitted several times he had been financed during his career by more than one crime figure to make it in Hollywood.
Bogart was still a supporting player but that would change within a year or so as "High Sierra","The Maltese Falcon" and finally "Casablanca" would shoot him to super stardom.Ann Sheridan was a talented but underrated actress who could act very well(see "Kings Row",1942) and also
sing(see "Thank Your Lucky Stars",/43).Ida Lupino was a rising star at this time but a good solid performer.Her breakthrough role would come in 1947 with "Escape me Never", but she became a director during this era and never looked back.She continued to act and direct in films,as well as in countless television shows over the years.
Technically speaking the film print here is very good and has been transferred well.Extras included are a featurette on the film,its trailer and a nicely restored three strip Technicolour short of 1940 called "Swingtime in the Movies".
All in all the film sports a solid cast,a decent and engaging script and good direction by veteran Raoul Walsh.This is Raft at his peak,and a good chance to see rising stars Bogart,Sheridan and Lupino in their pre-star days.A good film addition to any DVD collection.
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 31, 2004
The Fabrini brothers, Joe (George Raft) and Paul (Humphrey Bogart), are truck drivers that struggle to make it on their own as a loan shark is on their heels trying to repossess their truck . It all seems futile as Joe and Paul's competition is full of bigger companies that do not care about the smaller companies as it is a dog eat dog world. This forces the Fabrini brothers to work long hours often without adequate sleep. One night after a rough day Joe and Paul pick up a hitchhiker, Cassie Hartley (Ann Sheridan), and together the three of them witness a truck accident where some friends die as they fell asleep behind the wheel. This is a wake up call for the brothers as they have different priorities in their lives, and it brings them in different directions. They Drive By Night is an interesting film with multiple themes, which offers a good cinematic experience
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 2004
This awesome classic starts out as a drama about the hard lives of truckers but ends up being a sort of film noir! Ann Sheridan was perfectly cast as a sassy independant woman, & I loved seeing George Raft & Humphrey Bogart playing brothers! And of course let's not forget Ida Lupino, one of the best (& craziest) femme fatales of all time! Also there's Alan Hale, who adds a whole lot of humor to the mix! I won't go into the plot b/c other reviews have fully explained the plot, but I will say that you definitely need to add this gem to your dvd collection! Be aware that the real star of the film is George Raft, despite the misleading cover art, which tries to cash in on Bogey's fame. This wasn't disappointing to me at all, though. I thought George Raft was cool! I highly recommend this to fans of great classics.
on April 11, 2001
They Drive by Night was so much fun to discover! Anyone who likes old movies will enjoy seeing this one. With Bogie as George Raft's little brother, working together as truckers, and the wonderfully wicked Ida Lupino married to the blissfully ignorant Alan Hale, this movie was a joy to watch from start to finish.
on June 23, 2000
When I first watched this movie, I was only mildly interested in the first part which shows how hard life is for two trucker brothers (Raft and Bogart). Only when Ida Lupino is introduced as the off-kilter, man-killing Lana Carlson did I really sit up and take notice. She continued to steal all her scenes as she degenerates into madness after killing her buffoon of a husband for the cold Raft character. Her gradual breakdown is something to see and electrified audiences in l940. When she begins to shriek on the witness stand: "The doors made me do it!", you freeze in amazement at her powerful acting. Her "mad" scene was phenomenal. A note: compare her portrayal of the man-crazed heroine to the way Bette Davis portrayed her in the original, the l934 "Bordertown". Davis always bragged that the quiet way she went crazy on the stand was the right way but after seeing how Lupino did it, you'll think that Davis was wrong. Sorry, Bette, but Lupino did it a l00 times better and a hell of a lot more powerful. Lana Carlson--one mixed-up, crazy dame from Warner Brother's golden days--thanks to the genius of Ida Lupino!
on April 7, 2000
They Drive By Night has a lot going for it. It's directed by Raoul Walsh, who knew how to make a tough guy movie, yet give it some heart. It has two of the screen's great tough guys, George Raft and Humphrey Bogart. It also has two of the screen's best tough guy girlfriends, Ann Sheridan and Ida Lupino. And it has some really great dialogue that time has not dated. It's the story of two truckers who are brothers, and it looks at the difficulties facing truckers (sleeplessness that can lead to accidents, suppliers that don't pay up, etc). Bogart and Raft are good as the brothers, although Raft doesn't have much of a range as an actor. Raft hooks up with Sheridan, a woman who can hold her own with any trucker. Sheridan plays her with just the right mix of outward toughness, but decency and tenderness, too. Unfortunately, Lupino wants Raft, and she won't be denied what she wants. Lupino gives the performance that you'll remember from this film. She becomes more intense with every scene, and by her last scene, she reaches a level that is amazing to behold. With Lupino's performance and the great dialogue, They Drive By Night is a Warner Brothers' film that should be seen.