They Live by Night | Chicago Reader

They Live by Night

A key film noir of the 40s, this was Nicholas Ray's first film as a director (1949), and the freshness of his expressionist-documentary style is still apparent and gripping. Farley Granger found one of his few effective roles as the gangly teenager propelled into a life of crime; Cathy O'Donnell is his tough-minded lover, following him across the country through a succession of stolen cars and cramped motel rooms. Much of Wim Wenders's romantic despair can be found here in its original, more extravagant form. The film was drained of its dark poetry when Robert Altman remade it as Thieves Like Us. 95 min.

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