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USA 1940
Directed by
Raoul Walsh
93 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

They Drive By Night

Humphrey Bogart was still a support player when Warner Brothers made this standard issue “social issue”-cum-murder romance film.

George Raft and Bogart play Joe and Paul Fabrini, independent California truck drivers who push themselves and their aging rig beyond the limits just to eke out a living ("what has changed" I’m sure many such drivers would say). When eventually Paul crashes the truck and loses an arm (effectively exiting Bogart from the film) Joe goes to work for the trucking company. Ed Carlsen (Alan Hale) whose shrewish wife, Lana (Ida Lupino), has the hots for Joe who however has eyes only for sweet pea, Cassie (Ann Sheridan).

The film slides from a heavy-handed depiction of the lifestyle of truckers to a rather florid melodrama as Lana loses her marbles, kills her husband and then tries to frame Joe for the murder when he rebuffs her advances. Of course these days anything with Bogart automatically gets a look and an attention-grabbing Lupino certainly throws herself into her role but this is still not enough to make Walsh’s film much more than a time filler.

 

 

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