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CompleteMartialArts.com - They Live by Night / Side Street (Film Noir Double Feature)

They Live by Night / Side Street (Film Noir Double Feature)
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Manufacturer: Warner Home Video
Starring: Farley Granger, Cathy O'Donnell, James Craig, Paul Kelly, Jean Hagen
Directed By: Anthony Mann, Nicholas Ray
Average Customer Rating: Average rating of 4.0/5Average rating of 4.0/5Average rating of 4.0/5Average rating of 4.0/5Average rating of 4.0/5

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Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Binding: DVD
Brand: Warner Brothers
EAN: 0085391150275
Format: Black & White
Label: Warner Home Video
Manufacturer: Warner Home Video
Number Of Items: 1
Publisher: Warner Home Video
Region Code: 1
Release Date: 2007-07-31
Running Time: 177
Studio: Warner Home Video
Theatrical Release Date: 1950-03-23

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Editorial Reviews:

Studio: Warner Home Video Release Date: 07/31/2007

Spotlight customer reviews:

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: Noir double feature
Comment: This is an excellent package, combining a true classic of the genre with a rarer piece with which it shares a lot of common connections.

THEY LIVE BY NIGHT is the first screen telling of the novel, THIEVES LIKE US, remade in the 70s with great skill by Robert Altman, This one has a more conventional style from the late forties, but both are totally effective depictions of a pair of young lovers on the lam.

Very moving, tragic. Well performed, all around. The Altman version is one of the best 70s films and this one is every bit as impressive. A lot has been made of its connections to BONNIE AND CLYDE, but unlike those outlaws, these two kids are total innocents, and the two actors are completely believable.

The commentary is good, although not extraordinary. The film historian brings up good points, but Granger doesn't really have many meaningful things to add. Still, it's worthwhile; I'm very glad they chose to have a commentary track.

SIDE STREET is an MGM "B" that had the same two actors, filmed in 1950, two years past NIGHT. It's very nice;
again the leads are totally innocent-types who end up in a maelstrom of trouble due to one false step. It was totally new to me, so I found it to be a perfect bookend to the earlier film. Commentary here was fine, too.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5
Summary: A masterpiece and a mediocre noir
Comment: I'm not a great fan of Nicholas Ray but he made in "They Live by Night" a truly classic film. The film has its lacks, or rather annoyances, but they don't take away from the overall feeling of watching Granger and the girl (sorry I forgot her name just now) playing the best "Romeo & Juliet" ever seen on film. Romeo/Juliet on its poor and Southern version, not the rich and glamorous. They just look so natural and the camera is right where the viewer wants to be.

The story is not that awesome, a typical story of an amateur gang of bank robbers, the young man who falls in love -while on the run- with a beautiful, gentle, and lovable country girl. His fate is sealed from the beginning, we sense it, but we follow their adventures and dreams of family happiness nevertheless. But the law is merciless and makes no distinction between the hard-hearted gangster and the harmless kid who makes bad choices. Sometimes character exaggeration becomes a little aggravating, like with the heartless policemen or the nosey bystanders and shop assistants.

But the intensity of the love relationship between the young married couple is mesmerizing.

The second feature is just a nice extra. Directed by Anthony Mann, who's better with Westerns, has some nice shots of the streets of naked NYC, with persecutions and some tension. But the story lack quality and interest. Granger plays another innocent and recently married guy who steals some big money from an office while delivering mail; his fate is sealed again, and we follow him the other 3 quarters of the film in his misadventures. One keeps thinking how foolish he was, and how well he deserved all his troubles. The girl here plays a less conspicuous role.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5
Summary: They live by night / Side street
Comment: I would have liked to submit a review on this title. Only I can't, because inside the case there was a different DVD, with a completely different noir double feature.
I decided to keep it, when I saw it was interesting as well. So, it has become a funny item in my collection, with "They live by night / Side street" on the cover, and "Where danger lives / Tension" in the interior.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Comment: ****1/2 1948. THEY LIVE BY NIGHT is an adaptation of Edward Anderson's Thieves Like Us. Co-written and directed by Nicholas Ray. An escapee falls in love with a young girl, marries her and tries to reach a place where he could start a new life. Nicholas Ray's first movie is a one of a kind film noir that should be in every movie lover's library. The director is more interested in the description of the relation between Cathy O'Donnell and Farley Granger than in the usual film noir clichés; for instance, note that none of the two bank heists are shown to us. Indispensable.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5
Summary: The Rural South & the Urban North. Two Solid Film Noirs Have a Lot in Common.
Comment: "They Live By Night" and "Side Street" are film noirs in which ordinary, flawed men try to extricate themselves from a web of crime and deceit created by their own momentary foolishness. In both cases, the protagonist is pursued by both the law and the hoodlums. "They Live By Night" was shelved for 2 years before it could get a US release, but both films were made under the aegis of executive producer Dore Schary, first at RKO, then at MGM. They both pair actors Farley Granger and Cathy O'Donnell as sympathetic, if naïve, young couples hurting for money. Curiously, both films establish the narrative's sympathy for its acutely imprudent protagonist from the outset, by means of a prologue or voiceover. I wonder if that is Schary's political activism at work.

"They Live By Night" (RKO 1948) is based on Edward Anderson's novel "Thieves Like Us", adapted for the screen by director Nicholas Ray. Three "lifers" break out of a prison farm. The career criminals T-Dub (Jay C. Flippen) and Chickamaw (Howard Da Silva) bring Bowie (Farley Granger), an enthusiastic but naïve young convict, with them, intending that he be their driver on bank heists. The threesome take temporary refuge with T-Dub's brother and niece Keechie (Cathy O'Donnell). Keechie barely hides her distaste for the thugs but is attracted to the sweet and handsome Bowie. Bowie hopes that they can live well and in peace with his share of a bank job, and the couple run away together. But the police and his partners in crime have other ideas.

Some of the first shots in this film are of a car on a country road photographed from a helicopter. There are more aerial shots later in the story, also of a car. These may have the first helicopter shots to follow a particular object in a commercial film. The storyline is a basic "fugitive couple" variety, on the run with brief interludes of bliss. It has a Depression-era feel, as that's when the novel was written. But "They Live By Night" is distinguished by the extraordinary authenticity of the everyday life scenes and its compassion for two young people on the fringes of society. Rural, poor, not very bright, and from strange, isolated backgrounds, Keechie and Bowie are the extreme of Southern white trash and perhaps too ignorant to realize it.

"Side Street" (MGM 1950) gives the initial impression of a police procedural but is a thriller revolving around a genial mailman sucked into the world of thugs and floozies on account of one moral lapse. Joe Norson (Farley Granger) has recently lost his business and had to move his family in with his in-laws. Doing the rounds one day as a part-time mail carrier, Joe sees a man in a law office stash $200 in a filing cabinet. The next time he delivers mail to that office, he steals a file containing the money, hoping to save his pregnant wife (Cathy O'Donnell) the indignity of delivering their baby in a public clinic. But the file actually contains $30,000, the loot from a blackmail and murder scheme. Now the crooked lawyer's sociopathic henchman Georgie (James Craig) and the police are after him.

This film also opens with a helicopter shot, a breathtaking straight-down view of Manhattan. A car chase near the end of film is one of the few I've seen in New York City, also shot partly from a helicopter, and it is pretty spectacular. "Side Street" spends a lot of time on the streets of New York and is a wonderful document by cinematographer Joseph Ruttenberg of how the city looked mid-century. The style is docudrama. The title may refer to the archetypal, inconspicuous working class family that lives down many a street and whose frustrations engender Joe's predicament and the audience's sympathy. Joe doesn't begin in the underworld, but flees to the noir world of betrayal, dark alleys, nightclubs, and chaos in order to track that money down.

The DVD (Warner 2007): There are no scene selection menus. Both films have an audio commentary and featurette. "Side Street" also has a theatrical trailer. "They Live By Night: The Twisted Road" (6 min) interviews film critics, film noir scholars, and Oliver Stone about the film and its themes. The audio commentary for "They Live By Night" is by film noir historian Eddie Muller and actor Farley Granger. They discuss how the film made it to the screen, its delayed release, Ray's direction, the camera work. Granger shares his memory of making the movie. "Side Street: Where Temptation Lies" (6 min) interviews critics and others about Anthony Mann, the cinematography, and themes. The audio commentary for Side Street" is by Richard Schinkel, who discusses the photography, characters, actors, director, screenwriter, and story. Subtitles are available for both films in English SDH and French.

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