They Live by Night

A forerunner to Bonnie And Clyde in theme, They Live By Night is a nightmare tour of American society - drab, mercenary, and insanely competitive - that begins with a prison break and follows the hopeless flight of a bewildered young “criminal” (Farley Granger) and the woman he meets on the road (Cathy O'Donnell). The tenderness of the love story in They Live By Night contrasts sharply with the noir elements of the genre, and gives rise to the special lyricism of the film and its social consciousness as an indictment of a world too cruel and unjust for innocents like Keechie and Bowie. Already in this astonishing first film, Ray's style is as striking in its compactness and expressive mise-en-scene, as it is personal in its peculiar nervousness and integration to a decidedly modern, existential view of individual alienation and social determinants.

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