Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Review: They Drive By Night

They Drive By Night is one of those classic movies that has all the right elements. An ensemble of popular, high caliber stars, which include George Raft, Humphrey Bogart, Ann Sheridan and Ida Lupino, a solid, fast moving storyline, action, romance and obsessive love (mmm..mmm.mmm). It is a partial remake of Bordertown (1935) with Paul Muni and Bette Davis.

The story follows brothers and wildcat truck drivers Raft and Bogart who struggle to make a success of their one truck business. Women and tragedy enter the picture, along with a great Warner Brothers score. What else do you need?

Raft's "acting" is as it always is, he's Raft, but that's great because his persona fits the part of tough but honest Joe Fabrini perfectly. Bogart has the lesser role as brother Paul but it would only be another year before his career really took off in High Sierra and The Maltese Falcon. Ann Sheridan plays Raft's love interest and they have that great tough yet loving gal for tough guy chemistry that is famous at Warner Brothers. But the real star is Ida Lupino. Her lustful, obsessive, glamorous Lana is over the top (she, with Susan Hayward, was called the "poor man's Bette Davis"). This film along with High Sierra pushed her higher on the movie star feeding chain.

They Drive By Night was a hit for the studio upon it's release in 1940 and didn't do it's cast any harm either.


  1. Great cast, as you say. I think the first half of the movie is the strongest part - for me Bogie is the real star and I do find Lupino a bit much in this one. Must say I rather like Alan Hale as her drunken husband, though - he often plays drunks and seems to do so well.

  2. Alan Hale is a hoot. I think I've liked him in almost everything he's been in. Very dependable character actor. Thanks for the comment.

  3. Hi Rupert,
    This is one of my favorite Bogie movies even though Raft has the lead. Great review and you have a wonderful blog my friend. You also taught me something I didn't know that this was a partial remake of Bordertown. I am a big fan of Bette's but that is one that I haven't seen just of yet. Great site.
    take care,

  4. Thanks so much for the kind words ClassicJo. Listen, Bordertown is playing May 7 on Turner Classic Movies. If you get that channel you need to check it out. Bette is very Bette in it. She plays the Ida Lupino role.

  5. I completely agree,about this film. Strong cast,tight screenplay-(terrific banter among the characters),Especially Ann as Cassie Hartley. Being partial,a bit, as Ann Sheridan is one of my favorite actresses. She was one of those dependable actresses,you knew would always deliver a great performance,no matter what the role.To bad,Warners never appreciated her talent enough,to throw her some major roles.
    Many character actors to enjoy in this one,also. Roscoe Karns as Irish,and Joyce Compton,who always ended up in these ditsy-blonde roles,but always made the best of them.
    Alan Hale Sr,funny,quick-witted in real-life,bringing such likability to every role he played..this one especially!

  6. One of those films with a good story, good screen writing,fine performances by all and stylized directing. A 1940 film that showcased the talents of what was yet to come in the decade at Warner Bros. Mark Hellinger knew how to gamble with the right talent.Highly intuitive. Ann Sheridan was devastated with the news of his passing.



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