Directed by Robert Altman
USA 1974


  Perhaps Altman's most persistently charming film, a remake of Nicholas Ray's They Live By Night (or rather, second adaptation of Edward Anderson's novel), in which a trio of semi-competent bank robbers attempt to emulate the big-time gangsters publicised by the media, comics, and radio serials, and finally get their come-uppance after a brief respite from prison and poverty. Altman adheres to Ray's conception of the youngest criminal (Carradine) and his plain-Jane lover (Duvall) as innocents all at sea in an uncaring world, although the tone here is one of bitter-sweet irony rather than romantic pessimism. And while casting a critical eye on Depression America, with a New Deal being promised that would keep democracy safe, there is none of the cynicism that has occasionally flawed some of Altman's fascinating genre parodies/tributes. Never portentous, never a mere spoof, this is a touching, intelligent, and - in its own small way - rather wonderful movie.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE


Theatrical Release: February 11th, 1974

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DVD Review: MGM - Region 1 - NTSC

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Distribution MGM Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 2:02:36 
Video 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 8.11 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 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 Mono) DUBs: Spanish (Mono) , French (Mono) 
Subtitles English, Spanish, None

Release Information:
Studio: MGM Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1

Edition Details:

• Commentary by Robert Altman 

DVD Release Date: April 17th, 2007

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Chapters: 24




Usually inept MGM have produced a strong DVD here with excellent value. The film is coated with Altman charm and the digital representation is solid. This is a dual-layered DVD - progressive and anamorphically transferred with surprising detail and contrast. The print used is clean with no untoward marks. Skin tones have a tendency to look a bit reddish at times but I see no distinct indicators of manipulation.  Audio has options for original mono and stereo and two DUBs (French and Spanish). There are subtitles in English (HoH) or Spanish and no liner notes.

The Altman commentary is a welcome surprise as the great director passed away in November of last year. It was recorded in 1988. He talks about ins-and-outs of the film's production with a great deal of care - subtly expressing the meticulous detail in which he made the film. He discusses the adaptation and is brief on the performances. Overall this is incredible deal for around $10 there really is no reason not to pick it up. Strongly recommended!

Gary W. Tooze



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Distribution MGM Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC


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