They Live by Night by Bosley Crowther

They Live by Night by Bosley Crowther

04 novembre 1949. Encore une histoire de gangster en fuite en compagnie de sa chère et tendre. D’autres s’en lasseraient. Pas le passant cinéphile qui aime le genre. Direction donc le Criterion avec à l’affiche le dernier Nicholas Ray, The Live by Night.

Critique d’époque :

« A commonplace little story about a young escaped convict « on the lam » and his romance with a nice girl whom he picks up and marries is told with pictorial sincerity and uncommon emotional thrust in RKO’s latest item, They Live by Night, at the Criterion. Although it – like others – is misguided in its sympathies for a youthful crook, this crime-and-compassion melodrama has the virtues of vigor and restraint.

Coming upon its young hero as he is escaping from a southwest prison farm with two older and tougher criminals, it takes him on a fast and desperate round of other criminal depredations and of deceptive maneuvers to avoid the police. And it also takes him gently into the arms of a tender farm girl with whom he is poignantly happy and grimly frightened until fate seals his doom.

Based on a novel by Edward Anderson, which, in turn, was no doubt inspired by the two or three real-life sagas that we’ve had of « boy bandits » and their brides, this well-designed motion picture derives what distinction it has from good, realistic production and sharp direction by Nicholas Ray. Mr. Ray has an eye for action details. His staging of the robbery of a bank, all seen by the lad in the pick-up car, makes a fine clip of agitating film. And his sensitive juxtaposing of his actors against highways, tourist camps and bleak motels makes for a vivid comprehension of an intimate personal drama in hopeless flight.

As the young bandit, Farley Granger gives a genuine sense of nervous strain and is wistful and appealing in his brave approach to a piteous romance. Cathy O’Donnell, the girl who played the sweetheart of the handless sailor in The Best Years of Our Lives, is also sincerely affecting as his drab but intense little bride. Howard da Silva and Jay C. Flippen are impressive as hardened crooks, and Ian Wolfe is disturbingly shifty as a marrying parson in a Texas town.

They Live by Night has the failing of waxing sentimental over crime, but it manages to generate interest with its crisp dramatic movement and clear-cut types ». Par Bosley Crowther pour le New York Times.

They Live by Night est une petite histoire banale mais racontée avec émotion et sincérité. Mais Bosley Crowther regrette le côté tendre voyou. Il trouve cela bien mal avisé. Pour lui, force doit rester à la Loi. Et les bandits ne sont que des brutes et des rebuts de la société. Bien sur Bosley, bien sur…

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8 réflexions sur « They Live by Night by Bosley Crowther »

  1. By Jim Patterson from the group All Films Noirs : « I do believe that this was the only film noir I saw from the 1940s that showed someone in a double bed…..even moreso with a guy in pajama bottoms which gives the implication that he had recently been in that bed. At the same time! » and « Farley Granger appeared with Cathy O’Donnell a year later in the 1949 film « Side Street » but failed to recapture the incredible chemistry they had in this film ».

  2. By Howard Lipson from the group Classic Film Noir Theater : « Bosley Crowther was later fired for his old fashioned moralistic review of ‘Bonnie & Clyde' ».

  3. By Howard Lipson from the group Classic Film Noir Theater : « Crowther didn’t like any of the classics. Interesting reading but not helpful if one is looking for recommendations! ».

  4. By Kirk Shaudys from the group The World Of Noir : « I was rooting for this young couple to get away with it despite knowing they were doomed ».

  5. Luana Conley from the group All Films Noir : « The NYT owes the public a huge belated apology for Bosley Crowther, a pompous, classist, bubble headed snob who destroyed careers and obscured some of the best of American cinema with his puckered-up viewpoint ».

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