Wednesday, 24 November 2010
They Drive by Night 
A reviewer has called the plot of Raoul Walsh’s slam-bang drama/thriller They Drive by Night, with decidedly gleeful smirk, as schizophrenic. He called this as two films into one, and I must say I do agree with his views. The first half of the movie is a social consciousness drama about two small-time but aggressive trucker brothers (played by George Raft and Humphrey Bogart) just about surviving in depression-era America; while the second half is a noir thriller where a bored but good-looking housewife murders her wealthy, middle-aged husband in order to be with her former lover (Raft), and when he refuses to leave his wife for her, she alleges him to be complicit in the murder, in order to get even. As with most of the earlier films in his career, Bogart pays the second fiddle, in this case to George Raft. But there’s no denying the fact that the real revelation of the film was Ida Lupino, whose role as the gold-digging and self-serving wife of a gregarious, earthy and unsuspecting millionaire, and her subsequent transition into a raging lunatic, won her rave reviews. Though one might be tad wary given the “schizophrenic” nature of the plot, rest assured that this is an extremely engaging film to watch, filled with, as you might have already guessed it, equal amounts of realism and suspense.
p.s. They Drive by Night is part of Humphrey Bogart: The Essential Collection, a wonderful boxset release by Warner Bros.
Director: Raoul Walsh