They Drive by Night

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For the 1938 British film, see They Drive by Night (1938 film).
They Drive by Night
They Drive by Night.JPG
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Raoul Walsh
Produced by Mark Hellinger
Screenplay by Jerry Wald
Richard Macaulay
Based on the novel The Long Haul 
by A. I. Bezzerides
Starring George Raft
Ann Sheridan
Ida Lupino
Humphrey Bogart
Music by Adolph Deutsch
Cinematography Arthur Edeson
Edited by Thomas Richards
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date(s)
  • July 27, 1940 (1940-07-27) (United States)
Running time 95 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $4 million[1]

They Drive by Night is a 1940 black-and-white film noir starring George Raft, Ann Sheridan, Ida Lupino, and Humphrey Bogart, and directed by Raoul Walsh. The picture involves a pair of embattled truck drivers and was released in the UK under the title The Road to Frisco. The film was based on A. I. Bezzerides' 1938 novel The Long Haul, which was later reprinted under the title They Drive by Night to capitalize on the success of the film.[2] Part of the film's plot (that of Ida Lupino's character murdering her husband by carbon monoxide poisoning) was borrowed from another Warner Bros. film, Bordertown (1935).

Plot[edit]

Brothers Joe (George Raft) and Paul Fabrini (Humphrey Bogart) are independent truck drivers who make a meager living transporting goods. Joe convinces Paul to start their own small, one-truck business, staying one step ahead of loan shark Farnsworth (an uncredited Charles Halton), who is trying to repossess their truck.

At one stop, Joe is attracted to waitress Cassie Hartley (Ann Sheridan). Later, the brothers pick up a hitchhiker; Joe is pleased when it turns out to be Cassie, who quit after her boss tried to get a bit too friendly with her. When they return to Los Angeles, Paul is reunited with his patient, though worried wife Pearl (Gale Page), who would rather Paul settle down in a safer, more regular job. Joe finds Cassie a place to stay, and starts seeing her.

Just after the brothers finally pay off Farnsworth, Paul falls asleep at the wheel, causing an accident that costs him his right arm and wrecks their truck. Lana Carlsen (Ida Lupino) has wanted Joe for years, but Joe has always rebuffed her advances, especially since she is married to trucking business owner and former driver Ed Carlsen (Alan Hale, Sr.), a good friend of Joe's. When Ed hires Joe as a driver, Lana persuades her husband to make him a manager instead (and starts dropping by the office frequently).

One night, when Lana drives a drunk, unconscious Ed home from a party, she murders him on impulse, leaving him in the garage with the car motor still idling. When the police investigate, she persuades them it was an accident.

She then offers Joe a half interest as a partner in the business. Initially bitter over his inability to support his wife, Paul returns to work as a dispatcher for Joe.

Joe does a fine job managing the business, but when Lana learns he plans to marry Cassie, she becomes so enraged, she reveals to him that she killed Ed so that she could have him. She then accuses Joe of forcing her to help commit murder. Both are brought to trial. Things look bad for Joe, but a guilt-ridden Lana breaks down on the witness stand, laughing hysterically and claiming the electric garage doors made her do it. The case against Joe is dismissed after Lana is determined to be insane, and he reunites with Cassie. Joe considers going back to the road, but Cassie, George and the boys manage to convince him otherwise.

Cast[edit]

Reception[edit]

Box-office[edit]

The film was a big box office success.[1]

Critical response[edit]

When the film was released, The New York Times film critic, Bosley Crowther, gave the film a positive review, writing, "But for fanciers of hard-boiled cinema, They Drive By Night still offers an entertaining ride. As Mr. Raft modestly remarks of his breed, 'We're tougher than any truck ever come off an assembly line.' That goes for the picture, too."[3]

The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 94% of critics gave the film a positive review, based on 17 reviews."[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Everett Aaker, The Films of George Raft, McFarland & Company, 2013 p 93
  2. ^ They Drive by Night at the Internet Movie Database
  3. ^ Crowther, Bosley. The New York Times, film review, July 27, 1940. Last accessed: February 27, 2011.
  4. ^ They Drive by Night at Rotten Tomatoes. Last accessed: February 27, 2011.

External links[edit]