Monday, December 16, 2013

They Live

They Live by Night / Side Street (1948/1950) seemed like a good deal - two B&W noirs for the price of one. They Live by Night was such a gut punch that we never made it to Side Street.

Directed by Nicholas Ray (first film, I think), this is the story of a gang of Depression era bank-robbers. We meet them after they break jail, hiding out with pals in a remote gas station. One of the escapees is young Farley Granger. He and Cathy O'Donnell are clearly attracted to each other, but she is an honest girl with her feet on the ground, and he's a boy with a past who can never go straight. However, they are named Bowie and Keechie, so I suppose they were destined for each other.

Granger looks so gorgeous in this, just luminous in Ray's dark shadowed noir photography. Gives James Dean a run for the money. O'Donnell is appealing as the tomboy who keeps the garage running. The rest of the gang are great: Howard Da Silva as scary, one-eyed Chickamaw and Jay C. Flippen as the quietly dangerous T. Dub.

The whole thing is both stylized and hard-core realistic. The small towns, bus-stops and tourist cabins that make up the world of these "big-time" criminals are so evocative. But it's the love story that got to us, the poor doomed couple.

Has anyone seen Side Street? We probably won't feel up to watching that for a while.

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