(aka 'The Twisted Road' or 'Your Red Wagon' or 'Les Amants de la nuit ')

USA 1948


Nicholas Ray's energetic first feature, THEY LIVE BY NIGHT tells the tragic story of two doomed lovers and of their short, fast life together before they are torn apart by the criminal world.

More than a standard cops-and-robbers tale, THEY LIVE BY NIGHT is a Depression-era saga about lovers on the run. Entangled in a fate they cannot escape, and over which they have absolutely no control, they love to the fullest before they are inevitably, tragically separated. Though based on the novel Thieves Like Us by Edward Anderson (later filmed by Robert Altman under Anderson's title), THEY LIVE BY NIGHT owes an equal debt to the Bonnie and Clyde myth, which, while it bears no resemblance to this film in plot, has permeated the cinema's image of lovers on the run. (It's an image that can also be seen in 1949's GUN CRAZY and the 1937 Fritz Lang picture YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE.) Ray undertook the project enthusiastically, bringing to his film a personal style and vision evident from its beginning. After Granger and O'Donnell's kiss at the opening, a getaway car carrying the three criminals is seen traveling down a dusty road, pursued by police. Rather than shoot with a standard camera set-up, Ray demanded that the scene be photographed from a helicopter, a highly unorthodox idea that has now become a standard element of the cinematic lexicon. Not only did this sequence open the film with a burst of un-harnessed energy, it also conveyed a sense of godlike fate, looking down on Granger and relentlessly pursuing him. Beautifully acted, THEY LIVE BY NIGHT stands today as one of the most poignant and unforgettable noirs ever made.

Excerpt from TV Guide located HERE


Theatrical Release: August 1948

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DVD Review: Éditions Montparnasse - Region 2 - PAL

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Distribution Éditions Montparnasse - Region 2 - PAL
Runtime 1:35:24 
Video 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.61 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0), English (Dolby Digital 5.1)  
Subtitles French, None

Release Information:
Studio: Éditions Montparnasse

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Featurette: 'I'm a Stranger Here Myself' (43:26 in English with optional French subtitles)
• Interview with author Bernard Eisenschitz (25:25 in French with optional French subtitles)
• Audio recollections with Farley Granger while viewing scenes of the film (10:34 in English
with optional French subtitles)

• Listing of other Montparnasse DVDs
• 16-page liner notes booklet (in French)

DVD Release Date: November 16th, 2004

3-teired digipak inside cardboard case
Chapters: 15




The image shows evidence of slight combing and appears to be from a decent analog source. It doesn't look fatally poor but there is some contrast boosting and is best suited to tube viewing. The good news is the French subtitles are easily removable while viewing. Audio is fairly clear and consistent with one noticeable drop. More good news are the extras, with two segments (almost 1 hour worth), are in English. The featurette 'I'm a Stranger Here Myself' doesn't always show Ray's best side but its honesty is also its, and his, appeal. Nice to see some European acclimation of the man (Truffaut etc.) - and Houseman's (the producer) input - this is a must see for Ray fans. The package is a class one - its just a shame the image quality doesn't match - but I get the feeling it is the best material they could obtain and may be the reason there is no sign of it in Region 1.

The film is pure noir all the way. One of the best examples from the seedy-poverty-stricken-struggling-to-survive to the classic anti-heroes-on-the-lamb. I had reminiscences of Lang's You Only Live Once and Dassin's Brute Force (for some reason?!?). This film is a must-see and this DVD package is recommended!   

Gary W. Tooze


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Recommended Reading in Film Noir (CLICK COVERS or TITLES for more information)

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Distribution Éditions Montparnasse - Region 2 - PAL


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Gary Tooze

Mississauga, Ontario,


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