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.