Amid tough competition, Ida Lupino steals it. This cult classic is one of the best road movies to emerge from a major studio in the 1940s. Raft and Bogart are truck-driving brothers who have left the large company run by Hale and bought their own truck to work as independents. The first half of the film details their rise as they drive all night, skimp...read more
Amid tough competition, Ida Lupino steals it. This cult classic is one of the best road movies to emerge from a major studio in the 1940s. Raft and Bogart are truck-driving brothers who have left the large company run by Hale and bought their own truck to work as independents. The first
half of the film details their rise as they drive all night, skimp on needed repairs, and struggle to keep their fledgling business afloat. Bogart is married to Page, who resents his neglect of her in favor of the business. One night, when Bogart and Raft are pulled over at a roadside diner, they
meet waitress Sheridan. She has a sharp tongue and a mane of red hair, and Raft is almost instantly attracted to her. Later, the hitchhiker the two men pick up turns out to be Sheridan, who has quit her job in the face of her boss's continued advances. Raft sets her up with a room in a
boardinghouse. Shyly, he makes some romantic comments, which Sheridan turns away without being discouraging. Bogart falls asleep at the wheel one night and loses his arm in the subsequent accident, forcing Raft to take a job with Hale as traffic manager. Lupino, Hale's venomous wife, sets her
sights on Raft, but he refuses to fool around with the boss's wife. Lupino then decides to get rid of her husband, leaving him drunk and unconscious in the car while she closes the door and leaves the engine running. She offers to share with Raft the company she has inherited, but when he refuses,
Lupino goes to the police and tells them that Raft forced her to kill her husband. In no time Raft is arrested and charged. Sheridan comes to jail and pleads with Lupino to tell the truth, but Lupino tells her that she will take Raft with her wherever she goes. Things go badly for Raft in court,
with circumstantial evidence implicating him and the testimony of his friends doing nothing to clear him. But several people have yet to be heard from, and help comes from the strangest of places.
A loose remake of BORDERTOWN (in which Bette Davis asphyxiates husband Eugene Pallette in order to win Paul Muni), THEY DRIVE BY NIGHT could have been another routine film but for Lupino's incredibly forceful performance and Raft's smooth depiction of the tough trucker. Bogart--still wallowing in
the lull in his career between the time THE PETRIFIED FOREST established him as a serious actor and the time HIGH SIERRA finally made him a star--is very good, especially when he is embittered by the loss of his arm. Walsh's direction is as forceful and vigorous as always and this film is among
his very best.
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