A private eye escapes his past to run a gas station in a small town, but his past catches up with him. Now he must return to the big city world of danger, corruption, double crosses and duplicitous dames.
In the '40s, three prisoners flee from a state prison farm in Mississippi. Among them is 23-years-young Bowie, who spent the last seven years in prison and now hopes to be able to prove his innocence or retire to a home in the mountains and live in peace together with his new love, Keechie. But his criminal companions persuade him to participate in several heists, and soon the police believe him to be their leader and go after "Bowie the Kid" harder than ever.Written by
Tom Zoerner <Tom.Zoerner@informatik.uni-erlangen.de>
Nicholas Ray made his directorial debut in They Live By Night that's a little bit Romeo and Juliet and a little bit Bonnie and Clyde. Bonnie Parker will no way recognize Cathy O'Donnell as herself, but The Bard will no way miss seeing her as Juliet Capulet.
As for Farley Granger he was always playing sensitive and misunderstood youths like this one back in his salad days. Ostensibly he starts as an innocent kid convicted for something he didn't do and is looking for money to get a good lawyer to clear himself.
A pair of rough customers, Howard DaSilva and Jay C. Flippen break out of their prison farm in Mississippi and as Flippen puts it recognize talent when they see it and he's an investment. If Granger was innocent before he sure isn't now. But the funny thing is that the media concentrate on Granger's baby face good looks and dub him as the gang leader.
While Granger heals up from injuries sustained in the escape he does it at Will Wright's farm and gas station where he meets Cathy O'Donnell and it's instant love. But this is passion that will burn hot and fast as this love is no way meant to last.
Ray did remarkably well capturing the doomed nature of the relationship and the people. Even viewing it today by someone who never heard of Bonnie&Clyde or even has seen the classic film. There is such an aura of sadness permeating the entire film from start to finish that even though you know it will end bad, you are drawn to these people.
They Live By Night is one of Farley Granger's signature roles and a great start for the career of Nicholas Ray.
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