Seen today, They Live By Night looks less like a B-movie masterpiece than a stepping stone, the first crack in a dam that would explode a decade later. There was romantic fatalism before—You Only Live Once, etc.—but Ray's film adds a vital generation gap. He had a way with photographing young people that could turn a pensive Farley Granger close-up into Byronic poetry. But then Farley Granger had to open his mouth.
Great debut by Nicholas Ray, but I just can't take Farley Granger as anything more than a pretty Hollywood face. He's in some very good films, but in every one of them, I wish that they'd cast a more serious actor. This film is still quite good, but not nearly as good as the re-make by Robert Altman, THIEVES LIKE US. (Forgive me for comparing apples and oranges-such different films, but both based on the same book).
"Desire" list: this is the film were Farley Granger's beauty acquires a component that would make him irresistible, as a young man on the run, along with the wonderful Cathy O'Donnell, a misfit who also would start Nicholas Ray's great adventure on film. It's as a victim that his handsome face attracts a whole eroticic component, which makes him one of the most disturbing figures of post-classicism actors.
Finally found it , The pure and the first gem mr. Ray ever crafted, left nothing but a collect-worthy one of Semi-noir Classic of U.S. Cinema.
Plus, i just watched 'Ain't Them Bodies Saints' this year. :)
A slightly different angle on the familiar "lovers on the run story," that ultimately results in a more sensitive, romantic tale than something like Bonnie and Clyde, etc. Nick Ray was probably better than anyone in depicting the stories/plights of outsiders.
There's two types of Communists in Hollywood. Howard da Silva, who gets blacklisted, and Nicholas Ray, who gets to have a career protected by Howard Hughes. The most ridiculous scene in this movie is the one where the policemen sympathize with the outlaws on the run. Pure insanity.