Film Noir Double Feature (They Live by Night / Side Street)
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They Live By Night/ Side Street (DVD) (Multi-title)]]>
Two stellar noir directors share a disc and costars, Farley Granger and the ethereal Cathy O'Donnell. They Live by Night (1948) was Nicholas Ray's maiden effort, and kinetically and emotionally the director found natural rapport with the spooked-animal vulnerability of his hero and heroine. This was the first film version of Edward Anderson's Depression-era novel Thieves Like Us (adapted again a quarter-century later by Robert Altman), and its tale of a young rural misfit drawn into more violent crime by older, harder fellow escapees from a prison farm anticipates the spirit of Ray's '50s teen classic Rebel Without a Cause. Side Street (1949) is fascinating as a bridge between Anthony Mann's great series of noirs shot by John Alton and the Western genre Mann would soon master. Working this time with a conventional MGM cameraman (Joseph Ruttenberg), the director demonstrates that the terrific "eye" that gave us T-Men, Border Incident, et al. was at least as much Mann's as Alton's, and he visualizes Manhattan as a collection of jagged skylines and deep, shadowed canyons. The script (by Sydney Boehm) involves a mail carrier (Granger) who, worried about taking proper care of his pregnant wife (O'Donnell), impulsively swipes an envelope full of money. Hard upon that "one false step," the family man finds himself caught up in a dark scheme involving blackmail and, several times over, murder. --Richard T. Jameson
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Top customer reviews
THEY LIVE BY NIGHT is the first screen telling of the novel, THIEVES LIKE US, remade in the 70s with great skill by Robert Altman, This one has a more conventional style from the late forties, but both are totally effective depictions of a pair of young lovers on the lam.
Very moving, tragic. Well performed, all around. The Altman version is one of the best 70s films and this one is every bit as impressive. A lot has been made of its connections to BONNIE AND CLYDE, but unlike those outlaws, these two kids are total innocents, and the two actors are completely believable.
The commentary is good, although not extraordinary. The film historian brings up good points, but Granger doesn't really have many meaningful things to add. Still, it's worthwhile; I'm very glad they chose to have a commentary track.
SIDE STREET is an MGM "B" that had the same two actors, filmed in 1950, two years past NIGHT. It's very nice;
again the leads are totally innocent-types who end up in a maelstrom of trouble due to one false step. It was totally new to me, so I found it to be a perfect bookend to the earlier film. Commentary here was fine, too.
I decided to keep it, when I saw it was interesting as well. So, it has become a funny item in my collection, with "They live by night / Side street" on the cover, and "Where danger lives / Tension" in the interior.
Most recent customer reviews
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A gripping film noir. This film picks up after a slow first couple minutes and then moves at a good pace.Read more