You Only Live Once

Fritz Lang's 1939 film about an outlaw couple on the run (Henry Fonda and Sylvia Sidney) is sometimes cited as one of the prototypes of Bonnie and Clyde. But Lang's themes are moral and mystical whereas Penn's are social; Lang's film, consequently, seems more genuinely timeless despite the topicality of the story. Lang directs in a stripped-down expressionist style that had a tremendous influence on the postwar film noir: it's always night, usually raining, and the camera hovers over the characters like the heavy hand of fate. 86 min.

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