Review: ‘They Drive by Night’

Fast moving and actionful melodrama of long-haul trucking biz, They Drive clicks with plenty of entertainment content. Story, off the beaten track, divides into two sections, but with a neat dovetail to weld it together. First half is adventure of George Raft and Humphrey Bogart as brothers operating a freelance highway truck, culminating with an asleep-at-the-wheel wreck in which Bogart loses an arm and his desire for further highway adventures. Second half is devoted to the triangle melodrama, with Raft on the receiving end of persistent amorous advances of the married Ida Lupino.

Fast moving and actionful melodrama of long-haul trucking biz, They Drive clicks with plenty of entertainment content. Story, off the beaten track, divides into two sections, but with a neat dovetail to weld it together. First half is adventure of George Raft and Humphrey Bogart as brothers operating a freelance highway truck, culminating with an asleep-at-the-wheel wreck in which Bogart loses an arm and his desire for further highway adventures. Second half is devoted to the triangle melodrama, with Raft on the receiving end of persistent amorous advances of the married Ida Lupino.

Raoul Walsh provides deft direction that accentuates dramatic moments and maintains a zippo tempo throughout. Script is decidedly workmanlike with numerous snappy and at times spicily double-entendre lines interwoven.

Raft holds the spotlight as the vigorous and determined trucking indie battling against adversities to consummate a dream of owning his own fleet. He turns in a topnotch performance. Equal in importance is Lupino who turns on her dramatic talents for an exceptionally outstanding portrayal, unsympathetic though it is. Bogart is excellent as the hard-working driver and Raft’s brother. Anne Sheridan is okay, mainly for love interest, overshadowed by the stellar performance of Lupino.

They Drive by Night

Production

Warner. Director Raoul Walsh; Producer Mark Hellinger; Screenplay Jerry Wald, Richard Macaulay; Camera Arthur Edeson; Editor Thomas Richards; Music Adolph Deutsch; Art Director John Hughes

Crew

(B&W) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1940. Running time: 93 MIN.

With

George Raft Ann Sheridan Humphrey Bogart Ida Lupino Gale Page Alan Hale
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